Why do we have such an aversion to stress these days? Everything is pushing you to “de-stress,” “manage stress,” “rid your life of stress.” Everyone we know is aiming to be “stress free.” Listen to me when I tell you that
Stress. Is. Okay.
Good even. Stress is necessary. Stress allows us the opportunity for growth. Tell me this: If you managed to maintain a “stress free” life, then at what point were you pushed? When did you learn? How did you gain anything or have a chance to improve? The presence of stress is merely life opening a door for you to become a better version of yourself; presenting you with a choice that is entirely up to you to make. Without it, we are sedentary and option-less. Even in our workouts, we have to stress our muscles to get any kind of positive change. Don’t get me wrong, stress can be damaging and even be the cause of regressive, anxious behavior. Bringing it back to the workout analogy, quick, thoughtless stress can strain our muscles and injure us instead. Whether mid-rep or mid-freak-out, breath. Slow down. Listen to yourself. Listen in your moment.
Let’s start with these few facts: you’re stressing over how much stress you feel. You’re stressing over how to resolve it and get rid of it. It’s an endless cycle of unproductive stagnancy that I’ve noticed plagues naive and willing victims everyday. If you’re not “stressed out” then are you even working hard? People these days love to pridefully chat about their struggles and hard work days and busy schedules. The guilt and shame that people feel for having free time these days is very real, and very problematic. It’s weakening us. We’re allowing a rushed society to bend us into constant competition with others over who works the hardest; over who is carrying the most stress. However, in a seemingly contradictory fashion, though perfectly in line with society’s demands, we’re forever searching for the ultimate de-stressor. The “chill pill” seems harder to find than the City of Gold. (More money, more problems anyway, am I right?) Man, that markets brilliantly, doesn’t it? Ironic.
Stop letting stress, stress you out! Slow down. Acknowledge it. Allow yourself to feel the stress so that you may be pushed to grow. Now here’s where things are tough, and up to you, (tough only because this is where you’ve been neglecting yourself.) In a moment of stress, once you’ve acknowledged and allowed the feelings, you must decide whether this is worth the stress. I know, very basic advice, but hear me out! You need to take a couple of deep belly breaths, consider the effects of the stress and decide where the opportunity to grow lies. Once you find that, you get to decide whether you want growth in that area of your life. You’re in complete control. If this is a place that you know you need improvement, then you let the stress pressure you. Sometimes it takes a few cycles of the same stress to finally get through to you. That’s fine. Take your time and grow at your own pace. If you do end up deciding that the stress can bring you no benefit or simply that you don’t want to better yourself in whatever way it pushes (we all have different priorities, and you should never falter in your own unless for yourself), then you let it go. Do not let the stress of something unimportant to you change you in a way that you don’t intend on changing. Sometimes the stresses of life, no matter how far out of line with our priorities, can weigh on us. This is where you practice the line drawing. But please, stop slamming your eyes shut and covering your ears screaming, “LALALALA” at every slightest twinge of stress. Let it in, decide where it belongs, and take control.
Below I’ve listed a few of the best practices to rid yourself of the harmful stresses:
1.) A quick prayer/acknowledgement of your purpose and the bigger picture 10 deep belly breaths
2.) Take a mindful walk/run
4.) Do something you enjoy such as reading, talking to a friend, working out, watching your favorite show, etc.