“Life is stressful” I hear mySelf say about 50 times a day. Over and over again, like a broke record: “that’s your body telling you it’s stressed. That’s your stressful life expressing itself through low back pain (or sleepless nights, or migraines, or whatever).”
All I talk about is how “bad” stress is…but what if that is a completely untrue story? Can we learn to re-frame stress to be an indicator, rather than the enemy? Because here’s the truth of it, as far as I can see: stress isn’t going anywhere.
Without stress, we wouldn’t have change. We wouldn’t grow. We wouldn’t evolve, or ever move out of the contentment of our present moment…and the bliss of the present moment would be lost on us, because we wouldn’t have anything to compare it to. One of the greatest bits of wisdom I have ever received was: “We must know darkness to experience light.”
What if stress is actually good?
Actually, it’s neither one nor the other…but how we interpret our body’s signs and signals about stress and then form opinions about these signs can make for some pretty good stories. Our self-talk tends to be judgmental and derogatory when the body is hurting or not functioning as well as we assume it ought.
Stress is our body gearing up for change: we are getting ready to act, getting ready to move, and preparing us to keep us safe. Stress is just the current of life we all live in. Stress is another word for Life.
But, the bodyMind of the human being (and all Beings) is extremely sensitive to Life, and it requires time to integrate and USE the information coming at us. The nervous system is always processing information of Life. The information doesn’t stop coming when the nervous system becomes saturated. When the system is full up, the information becomes hardness in the tissues of the bodyMind.
So all those tight muscles are literally information from your life that your body has yet to process.
And so are your symptoms, by the way. All symptoms: pain, sleep disturbances, headaches, vision issues, blood sugar handling problems, PMS, thyroid stuff….ALL symptoms are an indication that there is information being actively processed, or waiting to be processed, by your bodyMind.
Symptoms are a huge blessing, because they are the boddyMind’s way of telling us that we need to attend to some inner work.
Knowing this gives us a LOT of power!
This information helps us understand the value of rest, meditation, and simply taking a few deep breaths. When we pause in meditation or a mindful practice, we pause the information coming in, and we allow the system to integrate and soothe itself. This is why practices of meditation are useful: they help the nervous system catch up, literally, with your life.
So, what’s a Pixie to do when stressed? 3 things pretty much solve all stressful situations:
Pause: in this pause, you may take a few breaths, you may cry, or laugh, or yell. You may close your eyes, or take a nap…the idea is to just STOP whatever is going on with you, and take a moment to recognize it. Just notice: “This moment is saturated. This moment is requiring a lot of energy and focus from me. This moment feels demanding (or depleting, or whatever…)”
Prioritize: Make a list. And I really mean it. Get out a real piece of paper and write with a pen or pencil. Why? The act of writing starts to calm the system, in a way that typing does not.
Put everything onto one list, and then go back and prioritize: immediate action needed, action needed within 72 hours, and action needed later.
Take a moment to make some notes on your calendar with action steps that are in the “later” zone. Make some appointments with yourself so you know everything will be handled.
And then chose ONE priority, and break it down to 3-5 action steps.
Act: Yeah, because now you are feeling more in control and more present (I hope!). Start with your number one priority and go from there. Take the action steps that you can, and then when you need to stop, change directions. Easy peasy.
This technique of pausing, prioritizing, and acting is actually extremely effective to practice daily. If you make a list and find your top 3 priorities and tackle those first, you will always be ahead of your game.
Also, take a look at this awesome TED talk on Why Stress is Good… it has some amazing insights that can also help you change the conversation you are having with yourself WHEN you are stressed, which will, in the end, help you change your entire life.
Until the next…