Have you had this happen:
You say to your friend: “I’m really stressed out”
Your friend says “put a tablespoon of coconut oil on your right eye, then make 6 cups of turmeric tea, and do yoga.”
Your friend is well-meaning for sure, but the reality is there's not a "one trick" to reducing stress and anxiety.
The more we study reports by people not trying to sell something, the more we find stress IS a chemical condition in the body, but it’s the lifestyle that causes it; another counter-chemical in the body - or trick - isn’t going to be entirely effective.
Stress vs Anxiety
Stress is a chemical condition.
Anxiety is a response to the stress - caused mostly by fear of the stressful situation.
A pill - quick fix - is more like avoidance - trying to feel good - than it is helping us. We have this natural flow of avoidance. What we actually need… is practice.
Practice A: Being with the anxious situation. Immersion Therapy
Practice B: Being in the non-stressful environment.
*New* causes of Stress
There's no more saber-tooth tiger, so what is causing this discomfort?
- Trying to fix everything - we have quick-fixes for our basic needs, so we never learn to be OK with discomfort
- Fear of missing out - we're spending a lot of time seeing images of other people happy and enjoying our life as if they do that all the time. This is causing us to be anxious that we're not doing enough with our life.
- I'll be happy when... - our basic desire is for happiness and rather than enjoying where we are, we point to some goal that's going to make us happy. But, in this scenario, when we achieve the goal, we don't really enjoy it; we create a new goal, once again postponing our true desire - happiness.
- Time alone - the data rich experience we have is making us connection poor. We no longer interact with others as much as we used to.
Lifestyle facets that will help reduce stress
Co-regulation: Go into a meditation group, the Zen master doesn’t get all flustered with the group of stressed out people… the group of people gets mellowed out. Hang out with someone who’s happy, blissful, or feels like good juju VS sitting by yourself scrolling through endless “amazing life” photos on Facebook?
Groups & Community: In our past, if we were alone, we were dead. Our bodies respond to being alone with chemicals to keep us alert and cautious of saber-tooth tigers
Deep Breath: Fight or flight ticks off because our body and mind are a bi-drectional system.
Meditation: Practices stilling the mind (what are you thinking about. Sit in blank space)
Yoga: Exercise / endorphins, moving energy,
Gratitude: Nothing fixes what you’re stressed out about like focusing on what you’re happy about. Spend a few minutes writing down what you’re grateful for when you wake up.
That word alone causes stress! But, let's create a trigger to help us anyway.
- The next time you feel stressed or anxious (with a big inbox to sift through or seeing tons of vacation pictures), notice the feeling and stop what you're doing.
- Take the deep full smooth breath; release the breath easily. (repeat 2 more times if desired)
- Write down something you're grateful for.
- BONUS: Rather than hopping right back into the stress-inducing experience, plan some time with a friend, find a group that meeting, or reach out to someone that just feels good to be around.
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