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STRESS FREE LIVING- Yeah right ! How naive, how unrealistic ! Is it ? Think again... What is stress ?
Living with constant stress is not normal. Just because so many people do or you have got used to living with it, still does not make it ok. Our mind and bodies are not built for it because we are not meant to live with constant stress. Overflooding the body with stress hormones weakens the immune system, causes inflammation leading to illness of mind and body. No matter the external circumstance, at the root of it stress is a result of feeling powerless. You feel stressed when you let something or someone outside of you determine how you use your time, thoughts, energy and resources. It is a result of spending too much time and energy on mindlessly reacting to events, circumstances, people, own own thoughts, than on consciously responding, choosing and creating. You FEEL powerless, yes. Does that mean you ARE powerless ? No. Notice how stress is not a real thing. It does not exist by itself. We bring it into existence by attaching disempowering meaning to what's going on in our lives. How else do you explain two people responding differently to the same stimulus ? We bring it into our experience when we give away our personal power to create our own meaning and reality. Unfortunately though, the damage caused by constant stress -such as dysfunctional relationships, mental and physical disorders and illness - is indeed real. To put a brake on letting stress run and ruin our lives then becomes paramount. HOW ? The key is to reclaim your personal power and freedom to choose your perspective and response. And start making some powerful shifts in your daily life. START HERE. START NOW :
1) BREATHE :
Yes that simple ! Please stop reading. Now take 3 slow, deep and full breaths into your belly. Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4 filling your belly with oxygen. Breathe out slowly through your mouth or nose to the count of 4. Do it. How does it make you feel ? Write down how you feel. My guess is you feel some form of calm. Why breathing calms us down?
Deep breathing feels calming for a reason. Its not imagined. It actually changes our physiology.
The short of it - Deep belly breathing (diaphragmatic breathing) allows for full oxygen exchange, slows down heartbeat, stabilizes blood pressure thus relaxing the fight or flight response that is related to stress.
For those interested- Not repeating here what's there on Google. There's ton of research out there. Here's one article
Make it a habit
Practice taking 3 deep breaths once every hour, at least. Remember to pause and take 3 deep breaths when you catch yourself feeling agitated, irritated, annoyed, overwhelmed, pissed-off. PAUSE. BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT 3 times.
The more you practice the more you will automatically use it and the more you will have the key to instant calm in your own hands. You will start noticing how you are more able to choose how to respond versus react.
Easy to do ? Quick to do ? Can do anywhere ? Not the meditating- types ? Ok. At least the 'breathing-types ? Yes ? No more excuses then. Make it your go-to tool. Invite more calm in to your life daily.
"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak."- Hans Hofmann
How to simplify ?
Prioritize : One reason for stress is that we spread ourselves too thin.We take on more than we can effectively complete. That's because we have not taken the effort to get clear on what our priorities are. In absence of clear priorities you spend your days and energy trying to put out any fires that come up around us. Get clear on what truly matters to you right now. Write it down. At any given point in time know with clarity and certainty what your top 3 projects/goals/priorities are. And devote 80% of your time and energy to people and tasks that feed into these top priorities.
Oh , by the way- and the top slot for priority is already take : YOUR WELL BEING - NURTURING YOURSELF-SELF CARE !
You only have 2 more slots. Decide what they are going to be.
Set clear boundaries and expectations : Communicate respectfully but firmly what others can and cannot expect from you. Learn to say no more. Before promising think what you are able and willing to deliver on. Don't overpromise and then underdeliver. Or worse, don't burn yourself out in order to deliver. Delivering on the promises you make to yourself is as important (if not more) than delivering to others (at the expense of your own priorities).
Multitasking is not a superpower (not even for women). Creating focus is : Studies in neuroscience show that our brains cannot multitask. What we call multitasking is in reality, task switching. At any given point we can only ever do I thing. Switching between tasks has proven to be less effective producing poor quality of result. So stop being proud of multitasking, women especially. Here we can actually learn from the men. Complete what you start. Then move on to the next thing.
Less is more- Promise less, take on less, buy less, assume less, watch media less, collect less. Declutter your closet, your living space, your inbox, your pantry, your mind, your heart.
"Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify."- Henry David Thoreau
3) GO WITH THE FLOW
"Those who flow as life flows, know they need no other force." Lao Tzu
To go with the flow, let go of control. Put down that burden you're carrying so long now. Its not yours alone to carry. Let go of needing everything to go according to 'plan.' Let go of steering others behaviour. Let go of trying to control your day, other people, your commute, the traffic, the weather, what others think of you. For eff sake, just let go !
TRUST. Trust yourself more, trust your instincts more, trust others mean well more, trust things are going to work out, trust the process and timing of life. Trust that you don't need to do it all by yourself.
Write down the 1 area of your life you are experiencing most stress. Notice how it stems from you wanting to (but not being able to) control things and people that are not yours to control in the first place. Notice how your need to control stems from not allowing yourself to trust.
Sound like you at times ? “Nothing gets done around here unless I do it, I have no help, if I don't work the extra hours,the project's going bust, if my kid is not in bed by 7pm , they're going to become an unhealthy loser......“
People and companies and things existed and did well before us and will do well after us. I find it a liberating to know I am not indispensable. Nobody is.
So loosen the grip, let go and trust more. (Confession : This is the hardest thing for me to do. I struggle with it every day. And yet every day is a new day, a new opportunity).
4) GET RID OF FOMO & FOPO - Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) - Get over the need to want to be everywhere, with everyone, do everything , experience it all, do it all, have it all. In our life span there's just that much we can be, do , have, experience. And its enough.
FOPO -Fear of Peoples' Opinion - Worried that others (may) think (find out) you are not as smart, not as competent, not as confident, not as pretty/handsome, not as interesting, not as nice.....? Its ok. We all do. Sit with it. Accept that some people will think that about you, will not like you no matter what you do. So what ? Do you like everyone you meet ?
Also , remember 'Other peoples' opinions don't pay your bills. You stay focused on being and doing what you know you have to. The rest will adjust, or it doesn't matter