Time management, exercise, nutrition, breathing… Thoughts on stress free living–what is the core of the problem?
Stress involves a cycle of steps; stressors lead to stress reactions which decrease our health and increase our sensitivity to the stressors. Each step increases the effect of the next.
Often we stop the cycle by reducing the stressors in our lives (time management, learning to say ‘no’ to commitments, etc.). Sometimes we reduce our reactions to the stressors (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, relaxation techniques, etc.). And other times we simply support our bodies to better cope with the stress (good nutrition, exercise, yoga, etc.).
But what is the Big Picture?
Why there is so much stress in modern life?
Yes, our lives are busy. There’s hustle, bustle, crazy deadlines and lots of demands. Still, some people can remain calm and happy in the midst of it all, and others fall apart.
We are disconnected from our true selves.
In our modern lives, we have forgotten our purpose. We don’t know why we are here and we don’t sing our unique melody.
In Tsalagi (Cherokee) belief, one of the causes of disease is to not utilize the gifts you were given in this life.
The discord of how we live our lives and who we really are leads to decisions which are disharmonious. Our lives blast rock ‘n roll while our inner beings hum classical. Since we don’t know our own song, we get lost in the bustle bustle, the materialism and the chaos of life. We travel in a direction which we were never intended to take.
The process of reclaiming ourselves can be long as we untangle the knot of poor choices. In the beginning, it is hard to even know what is wrong and what is right.
To live stress free, we must find enough quiet to hear ourselves, and we must become clear enough and strong enough to act on it. We are both the song of ourselves and the symphony of everything around us. When we receive the vibration of the Divine, and channel it into our own Divine Purpose, we have the energy to do whatever we must, without stress or effort.
Start with your Daily Habits
The easiest ways to start the process of recovering yourself is with external habits which take you from your daily life deeper inside yourself.
- Meditate–or at least sit quietly. There are many mediation techniques and one can easily get lost trying to find the right one. For now, if you are an absolute beginner, keep it simple. Promise yourself to sit in a chair quietly for 10 minutes every day.
Just sit still.
Notice how you feel. Notice what you think about. Don’t sleep. Don’t day dream. Don’t do anything. Just sit.
Oh–and don’t start to stress. Mediation is not supposed to make things worse!
Sitting can be a challenge. In no time you can feel bored, frustrated, or your mind will wonder with your list of things to do.Practice sitting.
If this suits you, then look for some deeper meditation practices to guide you.
- Take walks. Commit to a 20 minute walk everyday. No jogging. No talking on the cell phone. Just walk. Breathe. Notice what’s around you.
- Follow your secret passion. Have you always wanted to dance? Learn the bag pipes? Rock climb? Take up that dream you have always had and see how the enthusiasm of playing can lead you to new possibilities. Living stress free can be fun too.
- Indulge in little luxuries. As stressed mothers it is especially important to tenderly care for ourselves. We devote ourselves to others so much that it is no wonder that we lose ourselves. Take time every week to do something strictly for yourself, something which reminds you of who you are when you are not a wife, mother, daughter, co-worker or PTO member.
- Buy the Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, and do the exercises. Julia’s book helps artists re-find their muse through a series of weekly steps. View yourself as the artist creating your own life. Awaken the playful child in yourself, follow your dreams and ignore the voices telling you to stop.
- Say a prayer. Connect with your Higher Power and let your relationship with the Divine guide you.
- Make a practice of following your thoughts. Stress free living emerges when you stop torturing yourself with what could, should or would have been and just live quietly in the present. Focus your thoughts on stress free living.
When my thoughts careen out of control, I remind myself over and over:
“Right now, for this moment, I am safe, happy and everything going fine.”
This silly mantra keeps my worries for the future or regrets of the past from ruining my current day. It keeps my thoughts on stress free living.
It is quite revealing to learn how often my problems are from my thoughts. Stress free living is begins when we can master our mind.
I spend relatively little time actually tending to a problem, and when I do, it is usually more stressful thinking about it than doing something about it.
These thoughts on stress free living are only the beginning. Once we have quieted our daily lives, and reclaimed our creativity and playfulness, we can begin moving even deeper. Eventually we will be so familiar with the place of peace inside ourselves that the little luxuries and daily habits of quietness become pleasant additions to our lives, but not necessary crutches. We can find peace regardless of the turmoil around us.
Peace in any situation, regardless of the circumstance, is the true core of stress free living.