Learn to ‘Surf the Stress Waves’

A little bit of stress can be a good thing according to Catriona Kirwan of Catriona Kirwan Coaching. I was delighted to welcome her as a guest speaker for my Meetup Group Introverts in Business recently. The trick is, as her workshop name outlines, learning to ‘stress the surf waves’ staying on top of stress rather than drowning in it.

Stephen Hawking the Physicist said, ‘quiet people have the loudest minds’. MRI’s of the introvert brain have revealed neural pathways that show increased activity in the pre-frontal cortex in areas of long-term memory and planning functions resulting in higher tendencies for overthinking and ruminating.

Our preferences for one to one interactions, and small groups mean introverts tend to have a smaller social and professional network. This can mean we have less of a support network to turn to in times of stress.

In a study done in August 2020 Nixplay found that 50% of introverts as opposed to 12% of extroverts expressed increased levels of loneliness and 31% of introverts were increasingly unhappy while working remotely. While so many of us have embraced this new form of work at least in a hybrid sense learning to make sure we have the necessary tools to manage stress levels is really important for our overall wellbeing. This starts with awareness.

Catriona walked us through how our stories can influence our states and her visual of the traffic light system was very clear. If you end up in the red zone there are visible signs which you need to be aware of. Our ideal healthy state is to be moving between green and orange, this allows us to maintain a healthy state for our body which is in line with our story but also allow us to push ourselves when we need a little stress to motivate us.

The good news is, this is something we can manage and take control of but we should be proactive about it. Do a regular check in with yourself even a few times a day. How is your body feeling? Do you need to take a quick walk, or do some breathing exercises? Catriona walks us through a great breathing exercise at the end of the video which you can easily learn.

With more and more opportunities for remote work which physically disconnects us from colleagues we will benefit greatly from an understanding of the tiered response to stress and how to maintain healthy levels. If you’re interested Catriona has a 4 week course beginning September 28, 2021 which I can highly recommend or follow her on LinkedIn for lots of tips and tricks on thriving through times of stress.

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