How to Naturally Reduce Stress – Develop the Skills You Need to Be Happier, Healthier, More Fulfilled

Adiel Gorel

Moving From The Psychological Red Zone to Green Zone


In part 1 of my podcast with Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo we started to talk about how to naturally reduce stress, and what she calls the psychological Red and Green Zones. This is a good way to understand stress and the levels of distress that we find ourselves in. She explains stress as a continuum; a scale from one to ten; with high-stress levels of seven to ten putting us in the ‘Red Zone’. The Green Zone is, of course desirable, but not always achievable, and we often see examples of Red Zone behavior around us, as Elizabeth explains with examples. In part 2 of the podcast, we speak about ways to end the vicious cycle of negativity and stress that seems to self-perpetuate.

The psychological Red Zone and HELM.

According to Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo or Doctor E, the first thing to do when learning how to naturally reduce stress is to become aware of the signs of entering that Red Zone. We start to feel certain emotions creeping up on us: anger, sadness, and anxiety. We start to experience physical sensations: clammy hands, headaches, change in posture, etc. We also start to demonstrate certain behaviors: snapping at people, procrastinating what needs doing, and so on. This is also the time when the negative, defeatist thoughts start to crowd in. Practicing gratitude is one of the solutions that Elizabeth finds is very effective with her clients.

She has a formula for helping people who find themselves in that Red Zone – she calls it HELM where H stands for Halt, E stands for Exercise, L stands for Laughter, and M is Music. It is easy to see how we can consciously and deliberately extricate ourselves using these tools when we find ourselves getting sucked into that Red Zone. Stopping and thinking about what is going on and what we are doing and feeling is actually a little like grandma asking us to count to ten before speaking or acting – an age-old tool for how to naturally reduce stress. Laughter and music are universal panaceas for all sorts of problems the world over. As for exercise, Elizabeth refers to this as ‘non-pharmacological Xanax’ – even just a few pushups and on-the-spot jogging can help, as she explains in the podcast.

A painful personal story.

Elizabeth bravely shares her own personal story on the podcast, to explain how she herself manages to stay out of that Red Zone. Her husband, whom she calls the love of her life, was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease) some years ago. This is a terrible disease that makes a person progressively sicker and more immobile as time goes by. Her husband is now completely paralyzed and nonverbal, requiring care 24×7. To me, this looks very much like a Red Zone situation pretty much all the time.

However, she has found ways for her husband and herself to keep enjoying each other and how to naturally reduce stress; ways in which she can remain in the Green Zone – happier and less stressed even in such a stressful situation. She also has practical tips to help us have a better day. For instance, she tells me how research shows that watching just three minutes of news in the morning increases our chances of having a bad day. So it is important to beware of what we ‘put in our brain’. With the kind of information overload and bombardment of stimuli that our senses are subjected to, this makes sound sense.

To know more about doctor E or Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo and her work – therapy, speaking engagements, books, and so on – you could visit her website 

Tune in to my podcast with her here

Adiel Gorel

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