For as long I as I can remember, Sunday night was "list night" organizing my week of appointments, activities , menus, and keeping track of the family's lists as well. This night was my time of reflection, always adding to my "not done" list, along with the future "to do" list. I was writing long before there were "planners"and happily continue this "non-tech" system daily, creating a journal of life focuses. Looking back through my planners and lists, I notice that there are very few open areas...I have been busy and always had a running list of things to fill any blank space immediately. I have been stressed and "distressed" with the hectic and choas that sometimes comes with being busy. I remember thinking, as each week unfolded, that the next week would be calmer, but it usually was not. I have spent decades understanding that chronic stress is damaging to our health and have worked with individuals to reduce that impact. But I can also look at my planner and my daily stress with new insight... moderate stress is a part of our lives that can be embraced, managed and can bring meaning and resilience . Evidence suggests that stress can make you smarter, more successful, more compassionate, braver and with a positive view, can help you live longer. We can become empowered in the face of challenges, tranform our attitude toward stress and change trauma into growth and positive experiences. We can nurture our resilience by choosing to change our perception and relationship to stress, and transform our ability to cope.
Stress is a stimulus that demands a body/mind response. It is a state of alertness preparing us for a safe outcome and defining what we care about. Many of us remain in that high level of awareness indefinately, creating symptoms and costing us our well being. We have come to believe that this chronic state is unavoidable and we "stress over stress". Stress is a two part challenge,(1) the stressors: our enivonment, our life style choices, our relationships, situations that challenge your balance. and (2) your response: your perception, your reaction...are you pro-active or a victum. Your mind/body response is the same regardless how big or small the stressor... but your perception and the attached meaning of the stress can determine if that stress will become harmfull. Research indicates that if you believe that stress is toxic, it will have a toxic effect on you. But you can choose to see the good in challenging experiences, transform your thinking to shape how you interpret the stressor and redefine stress into positive energy. Stress is a normal part of life, but managing is a learned skill.
Start by quieting yourself, listen to your thoughts and feel your body respond. Identify and be mindful of your personal stressors, your belief in the effects and struggles. Reframe you thinking into positive outcomes and positive meaning. Embrace your new insight and hold on to it....own it. Changing your perception can change your response and will change your ability to cope. Holistic therapies like clinical reflexology, acupressure, auriculotherapy and emotional release techniques can help to create that deep inner calm and new perspective.
Being busy, being stressed, being challenged by trauma and hardships has given meaning and definition to your life. Embrace stress and learn to manage your perception to discover your own power, personal strength, courage and and resilience. It can transform your life, improve your health and happiness.