The Secret To Keeping Your Cool When You’re Uncomfortable

Your boss, “would like to talk to you for a minute”. Your spouse isn’t talking to you at all. It’s 5am and you’re not looking forward to your stressful day. How do you know you’re stressed? You feel slightly queasy, a little hot or cold, your shoulders tense up, maybe your intestines feel weak. How do you deal with these physical symptoms so you can pretend to be calm, collected and together?

It’s a little known fact that your brain only “feels” one sensation at a time. Remember the lame joke, “If I step on your foot you won’t feel your back pain”? Oddly enough, it’s true. But it’s even better than that. You have several types of nerves: some that perceive pleasure and some that perceive pain. Your nerves have an outer coating, similar to an electrical wire. The pleasure nerves have a heavier coating than the pain ones. The heavier coating lets pleasure sensations travel to your brain MUCH FASTER than the less coated pain nerves. This means a pleasurable sensation reaches your brain before a painful one does and you only “feel” pleasure. What a great tool to use when you feel sick to your stomach with tension.

So what? What’s the practical application? When you’re in an uncomfortable situation, gently tap or rub a part of your body- like your hand or arm. Unobtrusively if everyone is looking at you (just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they AREN’T looking at you :) ). Massage therapists call this “distraction”. That’s why they may gently caress your head or back when they’re working on a painful knot.

You intuitively know to stroke someones face when they’re sick, to clasp your arms and rub them when you’re worried or to hold someone when they’re hurting. Now you can do the same thing for YOU when your stomach suddenly drops to your feet. When you repeatedly tap or rub your hand while your boss is glaring at you, you don’t feel your stress symptoms as strongly and can hold it together until you feel better. And what keeps the pleasure pathways well coated? Healthy fats like olive oil, fish oil, nut oils and the like. So if you’re under stress, don’t forget to eat your HEALTHY fats.

Through Living Naturally, our non-profit, Van and I offer a relaxing and healing spiritual retreat every June, including our upcoming one June 20-22. It’s a wonderful break from the everyday and can recharge your batteries. You get everything you need to grow: intimacy, security, new experiences, nurturing and nature. We keep it small and personal so you should sign up now before we run out of super-cool cabins. Although some camping is available too if we’ve got a few extra who’d like to come. Visit us at for more information.



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