There have been many books and blogs written about Stress Management. There are many techniques out there that people use to manage their stress including yoga, meditation and tai chi to name just a few. There’s even technology designed to help including apps on your phone and watch as well as specific wearable technology like straps and rings.
Underlying all of these approaches and technologies lies a somewhat implied accepted truth: that stress is a part of life and the best we can do is to try and manage it.
It’s interesting to me that our approach with stress seems to be similar to our approach with pain. It is not welcomed and it is not considered to be a desired part of the human experience.
The irony of stress management as with pain management is that it is focused on the “problem”. And by focusing on it, we get more of it. It’s really a left-brained approach. When I was first learning to drive, I remember the instructor saying that the car goes where your eyes look. So if you look off to the shoulder of the road for whatever reason, the car will start to drift onto the shoulder.
It’s like that with stress. Where we focus is where we’ll end up. The left-brained approach is to minimize the stress as much as possible (as with pain). The right-brain on the other hand asks the question: “what is the wisdom in the message? Let me feel all of this”
Stress management often becomes an exercise in THINKING about stress management, rather than having an embodied experience of it. The benefit of the embodied experience is that we can more easily shift the physical effects of stress and we can more easily access our inner resources; resources that can help us adapt to stress.
Just like with pain, we don’t have to have an antagonistic relationship with stress. We could be so much happier if we could welcome the stress rather than fight against it.
It is true that stress is a part of life. Without stress we wouldn’t grow, just like the wind in the trees. If trees don’t have wind to push them around, they don’t grow tall and strong.
What if stress was no longer “the enemy” that we try to reduce, control and isolate?
What if when we were feeling stressed, we focused on having more faith, more trust, love of ourselves and others, more joy for existence and being grateful? How would stress feel then?