How stressed are you right now?
"Stress is the difference between where you are and where you should be." — Brené Brown
The world is still in the middle of a pandemic. War might become the new norm. The recession doesn’t show any signs of easing up. 79% of the U.S. workforce is struggling with burnout. How can we not stress out daily?
I used to take “stress” as a good sign that I was working hard—until I burned out. My relationships with stress changed when I began to see stress as the gap between what I expected and what happened in life.
For example, we stress out over approaching deadlines because we think we’d have more time than we do to complete the project. We stress out when someone upsets us because we think they’d be kinder. We stress out when our plane is delayed because we think it’d be on time.
When I stopped judging external events as good or bad, my relationship with stress improved. Instead of worrying about unfavorable outcomes, I ask myself: What do I have control over?
We can’t control the behavior of others. We can’t make them feel or think the way they should. We can’t change what happened in the past. The only thing we have control over is our actions and how present we are.
How, you might wonder, have they worked wonders for me?
Accept all my thoughts, emotions, and surroundings: Have you ever tried suppressing feelings or thoughts only to see them linger longer? Since our brain cannot stop thinking, we might as well notice, ask questions, and get curious about the thoughts in our head. After all, all emotions have a beginning, a middle, and an end. If Dr. Joan Rosenberg’s finding is true, the unpleasant feelings won’t last longer than 60-90 seconds. By embracing the feelings, we got to see what was going on.
Practice mindfulness and meditation: Mindfulness deals with stress in the present, while meditation deals with stress in the past. Popular mindfulness techniques include balancing your breath, merging your right and left brains, and coming to your senses. Popular meditation techniques include Vipassana Meditation and Transcendental Meditation. If you want to build a mindfulness practice that works for you, sign up for the LivingOS workshop next week!
Calm your nervous system with breathwork: Mindful breathing can immediately relieve feelings of stress and make you feel happier instantly. In addition, it also increases oxygen flow and boosts our energy. If you struggle to stick with meditation, breathwork is a more accessible alternative.
If you decide to try these exercises this week, ask yourself the following questions before and after the exercise:
How present were you on a scale of 0-10?
What was the experience like? What did you notice?
Describe any judgments you had regarding the practice.
If you don’t want to do any practice yet, you might still find value in answering the following questions:
What happened in the world around you?
How do you respond to stress in your current life?
How would you like to respond?
Remember that mindfulness isn’t a destination. It’s not a skill you get to master. It’s an ongoing journey!
C’est La Vie