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  • Writer's pictureCandy Widdifield

Addressing Stressors

Any stress, regardless of whether or not it is related to the conditions we experience, affects limbic system and nervous system functioning. Because of this, it is important for us to look at our stressors from a bigger picture perspective and come up with ways to minimize their impact.

When people think about stress, usually they think about emotional challenges. Stressors go well beyond simply that. Viruses, infections and physical pain also set off alarm signals in the body and brain. When we ruminate on something, even if we aren't feeling stressful emotions at the time, it contributes to the stress response. Many times we can have thoughts of ongoing, unresolved, or upcoming challenges operating in the background. We aren't always aware of them and we can fail to realize the extent of the impact of having this going on in the background all the time. Another example is when we rush around, living from a feeling of "there's not enough time and/or energy". We can exist in this way to the point where it becomes habitual and we don't even notice that it's always there to some extent. Then of course there's the more obvious aspects: relational, financial, concerns about health or the future. All of these need to be taken into account collectively to accurately represent the bigger picture of what is triggering your nervous and limbic systems. (If you recognize yourself in much of this and feel your stress levels rising as you read this, pause & breathe for a moment, close your eyes, feel your feet on the ground or your chair supporting you. Then when you are ready, continue on).

The next step is to look at what we can do about them. It can be helpful to make a list of the stressors that we are experiencing so that we can look at each one individually and ensure we are addressing them in the best ways possible. This is not a list that you will use continually, rather it's a tool to help you develop more awareness and create a plan to implement.

Start by addressing the stressors that can be alleviated by taking action or doing things a little differently (like delegating to others or realizing it isn't really that important when we put it into perspective). These are generally the easiest and least challenging ones to resolve.

Some will be part of the limbic system impairment itself and so continuing regularly with our brain retraining practices is the best support. Even within that category however, we can look at our perspective about them. Are we resisting or fighting against them (or the evidence of them) when they show up? Are we over focusing on them or the symptoms they create? Are we afraid they won't change? Look at where you are adding more stress and consider whether this is something you are willing to work on or change. People with limbic system conditions often have really high (and unnecessary) expectations and standards for themselves that create a lot of unnecessary strain.

There may also be other life stressors that are unrelated to our limbic system condition. If action can be taken for those, then go for it. If there is no current action that can resolve them, then can we accept them as they are and see them from a different perspective? It's already happening so fighting against it is a waste of our energy and resources. And sometimes things that may feel like a really big deal now won't matter so much in the future. Ask yourself, "Is this really as important as I am making it out to be? Ten years from now am I even going to remember this?" Even if the answer to that is yes, if you can't do anything about it, reflect on whether there is a way to detach yourself or disconnect from it a little bit more so it isn't having such a significant impact on you. If you believe in a higher consciousness or higher power, practice surrendering and letting go of the things you cannot change, trusting that you are supported (even if it doesn't feel like it right now).

General stress alleviation and nervous system regulation tools are also very helpful. These lower our baseline of overall stress and can increase our window of tolerance. This means we have more bandwidth to address challenges as they arise. Regular meditation and breath work are very useful in this regard. If anxiety, depression or sleep disturbances are an issue for you, consider learning the SKY breath meditation taught in the Art of Living Part 1 course ( Acceptance and surrender or "letting go" guided meditations are great here too. Things that are enjoyable or elevate your emotional state also act as a buffer to the stress response.

Remember the less your overall stress load, the easier it will be to make and sustain progress with your brain retraining.

Best wishes!

Caelum's Insights (A Functional Neurology Perspective):

Incoming information from all the bodily senses (sight, hearing, taste, vestibular (balance), touch, motor etc.) is integrated in the thalamus and then sent out the corresponding brain region for interpretation. There is however one exception to this. Smell is the only sense that is not integrated through the thalamus, it goes directly to your limbic system. As such you can use smells to influence your limbic system, Strong memories and specific states can be associated with certain smells. This is a powerful tool to help create specific associations with smells. For example, if you smell lavender (or an apple) every time you intentionally evoke a relaxation response your brain would associate lavender (apple) with relaxation. Over time, when you smell that scent your brain would automatically initiate a relaxation response. This also works well with studying and memory recall if you are learning something new or wanting to retain information.  Additionally, if you have happy memories that include specific smells, you can use those smells to evoke that memory or the feeling of it more powerfully.

If you have any questions you would like answered in this blog or to be added to my coaching waitlist, please email me at


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