me kay cooke

Seasonal Stress Matters

One of the things I’m often asked to write about is how to deal with stress during the festive season. Actually, the strategies that produce stress are the same throughout the year – it’s really only our perception that changes within differing contexts.

When we overrule ourselves with notions about things or people being a certain way, then we generate a very primitive fear response in the Amygdala. The resulting behaviour is simply a habituated response, which of course means you can change it.

Before change, we do need to check self-awareness because where we put our attention is astonishingly powerful in determining our outcomes.

You are not bound by habits of mind and body.

The key thing to remember is that our brains oscillate between ‘survive’ and thrive’, and influencing this is actually easier than you think.


Firstly we want our brains to be pointing towards a thrive response and draw attention towards behaviours and goals that nourish us.


Habitually, many people have been defaulting to ‘survive’ mode, cycling through behaviours gave the illusion of safety.


General survival behaviours are fear based and include:

  • Rage, outrage, depression, agitation, vigilance, anxiety, self-pity, self-delusion, self-harm …
  • Sympathetic nervous system is driving.
  • Neuro-chemically the brain is focused on survival and is unable to learn information it deems unnecessary to its survival.
  • Brain waves are high Beta or Gamma.


General thrive behaviours are solution focused and include:

  • Laughter, flexibility, resilience, flow, tolerance, respect for self and others.
  • Parasympathetic system is driving.
  • Neuro-chemically the brain is focused on thriving and is able to explore, learn and process new information.
  • Brain waves are low Beta, Alpha or Theta (Alpha/Theta is perfect for accelerated learning).


Check out the PDF ‘thrive or survive strategies’  with some simple contrasts of different ways people drive their brain. Which way are you driving towards?

Thrive or survive strategies


Remember also that quick brain hacks include Balloon Breathing, humming, and stroking a pet – all three quickly switch off the stress response. If that’s what you want to do …


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: