Stress, unfortunately, is an inevitable part of life, but how we manage that stress is what matters. To manage stress we have to first understand “the self”. We tend to suppress negative emotions rather than try to understand the root cause. Often stress is the result of a fear based mindset. Accept the duality within. We all have male & female qualities, as well as conscious and subconscious thoughts. Often our subconscious thoughts are trying to protect us without us having any awareness. Stress can also produce a positive reaction pushing us to work harder, speak more kindly, and accomplish our goals. There are many causes of stress including the loss of a loved one, divorce, relationships, work related, and financial. According to Web MD, “ Work stress tops the list. 40% of U.S. workers admit to experiencing office stress, and one-quarter say work is the biggest source of stress in their lives.” Unfortunately stress can take a heavy toll of our physical health. Our nervous system activates, releasing a hormone, that prepares us to defend ourselves or run, otherwise known as fight or flight syndrome. When stress becomes long term it can cause loss of hair, headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, weight gain or loss, and skin problems.
The holidays can be festive and fun, but with all the cheer also comes stress.
I mentioned earlier that in order to manage stress we must first understand ourselves. The best way to accomplish that is through observation. Observe your emotions and your reactions. Notice when your fight or flight response kicks in. Be aware of patterns you may have. For example; I tend to avoid conflict so my fight or flight response takes me into short term isolation. This isolation does not resolve conflict so I had to break that pattern and learn to confront the conflict with compassion and release the fear. Let go of judgement when emotions arise. We are our own biggest critic. Through observation we are better able to access “the why”. Why we are stressed, sad, angry, or frustrated.
After we accept the emotion in the present moment and understand the root cause we can move forward with positive momentum. Often the initial feeling has a deeper underlying cause. For example; if we feel stressed during the holidays perhaps it is guilt of overspending, over eating, or over drinking. If we feel anger often fear and insecurities are the underlying cause. If we feel sad we might be able to shift our actions in a more positive direction which reduces stress and increases happiness because it creates a sense of security. When I am “down” I generally clean and or read. I almost immediately feel better. Understanding that there are many things we cannot control and then shifting our awareness into what we can reduces stress. Awareness and understanding are critical.
How to Overcome Stressful Situations
Be aware of your body language. When we are stressed we tend to pull our shoulders up toward our ears. Allow yourself to take a deep breath and release that tension. Be aware of your breath. When we are stressed, angry, and upset we tend to take fast shallow breaths. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale deeply through your nose. You are in control of your breath and it will affect the parasympathetic nervous system which will lower blood pressure and reduce that flight or fight syndrome. Get moving. Literally as soon as you can on the onset of stress move your body by doing something you enjoy. Exercise releases endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body. Yoga and meditation are both excellent ways to reduce stress. When we practice yoga we connect the body and mind through movement and breath. By concentrating and observing the body all of the busy thoughts that are buzzing around our brains are quieted which brings us calmness and clarity. Meditation increases these positive feelings. Do not try to control your mind. If and when thoughts arise acknowledge them and set them aside for later. For me, focusing on my breath or listening to a guided meditation work best.
How to Meditate
Find a quiet peaceful place. You can lay down, sit on a cushion or blanket, and you can even practice a moving meditation. To practice a moving meditation I prefer walking. Notice nature around you. Notice the connection of your feet and the earth. Breathe deeply and slowly in through the nose and out through the nose. For seated or reclined meditation consider dimming the lights, listening to relaxing instrumental music, and lighting a candle or incense. You can use a repeated mantra such as saying silently to yourself on each inhale So and on each exhale silently repeating Hum. Focusing on the breath is another helpful technique. On each inhale count and see how long you can increase your breath. Then pause, holding the breath at the top of the inhale. Exhale slowly with control and see if it is the same number as the inhale. Pause at the bottom of the exhale. Continue and play with the count of the breath observing how you feel. Finally, listening to a guided meditation is also very helpful. There are apps you can purchase such as Headspace. I will also be offering guided meditations as well as a beginners workshop online very soon. There is no set time needed for meditation start with what you have and increase the amount of time you mediate when you can.
Deepak Chopra says in Perfect Health that heart disease can be reduced my 80% and cancer by 50% just by practicing a few minutes of meditation daily. Imagine the results when combining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exersizing, changing our mindset and becoming less reactive, and meditation. It all begins with awareness, observation, and getting to know ourselves.
Stay calm over the holidays and reduce the stress in life. We were designed to thrive, not merely survive. Reach your full potential and manifest abundance in all areas of your life.
Wishing you peace, love, and happiness,
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