Posts Tagged ‘stress’

STRESS IS CREATED BETWEEN OUR EARS

I know that it really seems like that rude driver who just cut you off on the highway made you stressed. Just as it seems like your inconsiderate boss who gave you another assignment made you stressed. And then there’s the weather which is stressing you. How about your kids? They create more stress with all of their demands and after school activities. We haven’t even brought up your spouse and mother-in-law yet! You have no choice but to feel overwhelmed with stress and anger, right?

It probably won’t come as much of a surprise that I am going to vote Wrong on this. And this truly is the good news. We do have a choice. We play a major role in the stress that we experience.

Yes, there are many stressors that find their way into our lives. It’s how we respond or react to them that makes all the difference. It’s what we tell ourselves about what is happening that will determine how we feel about those stressors.

When I was younger, I used to keep a running tally of all the things that I felt were going wrong in my life. I guess I didn’t want to forget any of them! Anyway, this tally made me very anxious, discouraged and Stressed. I would repeat them like a mantra, over and over, working myself up more and more. I don’t imagine I was much fun to be around and I most certainly was not fun to live inside of!

I began to observe people who appeared to be serene and happy. When I spoke with them, I noticed that they also had stressors in their lives, but they did not focus on them. If they did mention them, they always had a way of reassuring themselves. For example, if they had a boss who was always dumping work on them, they might say, “but, of course, I can only do one thing at a time. I’ll eventually get things done.” I would feel better just hearing them speak in this common sense way. They might not be thrilled about the cold, dreary, dark day outside, but they might say, “Days like this really help me notice and appreciate the beautiful days which will be here soon enough.” Somehow that lifted my spirit and brought a little sunshine into my heart.

Perhaps life is all about what we make of it. As far as I can tell, everybody has their fair share of unpleasant, anxiety-producing things that occur over time. It’s the way that we talk to ourselves about these inevitable events. Do we whine, cry, scream, moan when they happen or do we take them in stride, bringing kindness and compassion to ourselves. We are not unique. We all suffer. But tormenting ourselves by telling ourselves how unfair it is, how we will never get everything done, how life is awful is truly optional suffering.

Mindful Politics

It’s getting to be THAT time of the year, actually THAT time of the 4 year cycle leading up to another presidential election.  Can you feel it in your body?  Maybe it’s just me, but I know that I can.  There is a tightening in my stomach which usually signals stress and/or anxiety for me.

I’m aware of the political ads that my husband and I are trying to dodge by prerecording everything we want to watch, so we can “fast forward x3” through the ads.  There’s always some that somehow get through our filtering attempts.

I’m noticing that my clients are becoming more concerned about the outcome of the upcoming election.  They have plenty to say about each candidate.  Of course, as a psychotherapist,  I need to be neutral & resist the urge to add my 2 cents’ worth.  That comes with a price.  Whenever I stuff down thoughts and feelings I have to pay afterwards.  What does that mean?  For me, it means that unless I am able to clear that energy, I will notice that I have urges to eat food when I’m not hungry.  In my life, food has been my drug of choice.  I no longer allow it to have it’s way with me, but I do still feel the old familiar siren call when I am stressed &/or anxious.

You see, food, or any other addiction can help us “change the channel” on an uncomfortable feeling that we don’t want to experience.  We go on a search for the food, devour it mindlessly and then fall into remorse about having overeaten.  In the process the stress, anxiety, depression, anger or whatever has been forgotten. (Apparently remorse is preferable to the other uncomfortable feelings, perhaps because it is so familiar.)

In order to not have to pay the price, I have to invite myself, mindfully, to experience the original uncomfortable stress or anxiety.  I “let go” of the story line of why I’m feeling that way & just notice the stomach tightening or tightness in my throat or wherever I am feeling it.  I slowly & mindfully breathe while I am doing this.  Eventually the feeling will dissipate.

I have also learned that it is a good idea for me to limit the amount of political pundits I watch on TV or online.  It just gets me stirred up.

Apparently I get stirred up because I believe that my candidates have to win!  Now, I have been around long enough to have many of my candidates not win.  I have always thought that it would be the end of the world.  Obviously I was wrong about that.  Somehow life goes on and things settle down again.

This year my plan is to remind myself that it will all be workable even if the “wrong” folks get into office.  Life is too short to tie myself into knots for months.  I can do my part by voting and even working for a particular candidate if that is what I choose to do.  I can mindfully trust that life will continue to provide wondrous experiences, no matter what,  if I remember to bring myself into the present moment and notice those wondrous experiences.