Welcome back from Spring Break and now it’s that time of year when I remember dreading growing up, standardized test taking season is upon us. Whether it’s STAAR, TAKS, SAT/ACT, AP test or end of the year exams, our clients are stressing big time.
Through our practice in both Austin and Houston, we have gathered some valuable information and tools that are key to reducing stress and anxiety in girls. We have so many to share that we will divide this blog into two parts. We also have a download to share with friends, NCL / girl scout meetings, parents and school counselors.
Cortisol ( the stress hormone) is released in the brain in response to fear and stress by the adrenal gland as part of the ever so familiar flight or fight mechanism. So, what we used in order to survive , is now being activated by everyday life. Look at your daughters face when you say the word, TEST welcome to cortisol land. Cortisol is not your friend, research shows an increase level of cortisol is linked to interference with memory and learning so this is super important during test taking time. Also makes you crave carbs and sweets, no wonder I turn to the candy jar after doing my taxes!
Some ways to leave cortisol land:
Phone/Text a friend, having social time, elicits the “ tend and befriend” response which is the opposite of “fight or flight”. When you connect with others (face to face is best)it increases oxytocin and reduces cortisol. Can’t find a friend to call or text, pet your dog and maybe take them for a walk, this also releases oxytocin.
Laughter. Music and Movement: I have now forced my groups when saying the word STAAR to say it like it’s spelled, if they do this then they immediately start laughing. When they laugh or sing and get their groove on, it actually reduces cortisol. I also like to play “shake it off” super loud and literally start shaking off my negative mojo. Sounds corny, however, once you try it it’s hard to deny the power of music and movement.
Regular physical activity can burn up cortisol and just a little cardio goes a long way.
Not only does physical activity burn up cortisol it also increases our serotonin (Sara as I like to call it) level and “Sara” is our feel good chemical in our brains, she tends to make everything better. Twenty minutes a day will help alleviate your stress and anxiety.