Awakening to Stress - Why Stress Can Be Your Best Friend
Stress is a killer, or so they say. Our society condemns it as the price we have to pay for advancing in life. It is on the most wanted list of enemies we need to fight.
We spend so much time and energy trying to eliminate stress and win the battle. The struggle creates more frustration and pain instead of relieving the condition.
Stress is part of living. From the day we’re born we get exposed to various elements and stimuli. It is the language our protective subconscious mind uses to warn us against change and potential threats. The body receives the signals and we experience higher blood pressure, heavier breathing, tightened muscles, sweating and so on.
Stress in and of itself is not a bad thing. The way we react to it is what can turn it into a health hazard.
When you feel any symptoms of stress, it is a sign that something is out of balance or simply different. The signal is just that: a warning. How you choose to feel and react is is up to you.
Instead of viewing stress as the enemy, why not think of it as a good friend who is trying to tell you something? Wouldn’t you want your best friend to be honest with you and let you know if something is wrong or needs your attention?
So how can you understand your friend better?
Find the root cause of stress. The first step in making stress your ally is to know the causes of your stress. What are the things that make you feel tense, anxious or agitated?
Is your stress related to situations in your life or is it just imagined from fearful thoughts and limited beliefs (guilty of both)?
The deeper you look for causes, the more successful you will be in finding a solution that is not reactive and that is for the higher good of all.
Weigh your options. Recognize that you have a choice in how you handle a stressful situation.
Let’s say somebody cut you off in traffic. You immediately felt agitated and ready to burst. You have a choice of going after the person who caused this or using all sorts of abusive language OR you can recognize that it’s not personal and take a deep breath, smile and keep going on your merry way.
The choice is yours. This is easier said than done. I am still working on this one. We can start with small steps and get better with practice.
Take action to change what you can. There are situations that induce stress that you can do something about. For example, if the clutter in your home is causing you stress, you can start implementing a daily routine that gradually eliminates the clutter and keeps your space neat.
If you avoid taking action, you prolong the problematic situation and that will manifest in physical discomfort, or worse, serious health issues.
Take action when you can. Thank your stress for pointing out what you need to deal with.
Accept what is if you can’t change it. If you identify a cause of stress (such as a negative work environment) and you can’t change it at the moment, learn to accept it. Try to find the positive in your work place and shift your focus away from the negative.
Surrendering to what is can have a calming effect that will give you strength and insight. Resistance and anger only breed more of the same.
See the humanity in yourself and others. We are all human and we make mistakes. A simple shift in perspective can change your response to a situation. Allow the pain, anger or fear to pass. Observe and feel the emotion without judgment.
We all have crosses to bear and sometimes we may not choose the best words or course of action. Accepting our humanity helps us in becoming more forgiving and letting go.
Become more present. If you stress over fearful thoughts of what might be (such as fear of death, losing a job, self doubt), bring your attention to the present moment.
We can only deal with what is in front of us right now. We can’t predict the future, nor prevent certain things from happening. Accepting our limitations and focusing our attention on what can be done right now is all we can do.
Relax. Your friend stress might be telling you that you work too much, worry a lot and don’t take time for yourself. If this is the case you need to incorporate a time of relaxation into your daily routine.
Give your self time to get grounded and rejuvenate.
My favorite relaxing techniques include: meditation, stretching, a warm bath, playing music and watching engaging and funny TV shows.
I found a couple of blog posts that you can use for ideas. I intend to try more of the things listed. The important thing is to do something for yourself that makes you feel good.
Turning stress into a loyal trusted friend that you can have a good insightful conversation with is one of the best ways to have more peace and keep things in perspective.