Because stress plays a role in the lives of even the most mindful individuals who put their mental well-being at the top of their priority list, stress reduction is sought daily.
So why do we keep coming back to reducing high-stress levels or seeking new and better ways to relieve stress?
When did life get so complicated?
I was thinking about my capacity to absorb every song played on the radio and naming the band or singer or knowing what the latest fashion trend was when I was a teen. Nowadays aside from a few big names like Harry Styles, Adelle, or Ed Sheeran, I have no clue who I’m listening to or what’s ‘in’ or ‘out’ as far as fashion.
I just don’t have the capacity to prioritize these things. They are not as important as they were. I didn’t have as many responsibilities back then, or as much stress.
As we get older, we prioritize what’s important to us and when disruption happens that affects what’s important, stress kicks in.
What’s important these days?
The health of my family, friends, and myself.
The happiness of my family, friends, and myself.
Accomplishing my goals, taking care of responsibilities, and running an organization.
With all these topping my list of priorities, filling my mind and my days, stress comes along with it.
Issues come up within my workday. My health or the health of my loved ones can be compromised. Plans go off track. A multitude of circumstances, like a traffic accident first thing in the morning, setting me back 30 minutes, making me late for a meeting, sets off a chain reaction for the rest of the day causing a huge amount of stress.
Can you relate?
Can you observe the situation for what it is without judgment or conjuring up worst-case scenarios in your mind and creating more stress?
For this scenario, what if instead of stressing out about the important meeting I am late for or going to miss completely, (I don’t want to appear as unreliable or judged harshly for not making it), what if I paused and gave thanks it was not me in that accident and send peace and healing to those who were involved? What if I paused and recognized this happens and those in the meeting would understand this was unforeseen and would be compassionate and understanding? Perhaps rescheduling or staying late? Chances are, I will be forgiven, people will understand, and the worst-case scenario judgments I am creating in my mind won’t happen.
Can you see yourself shifting your perception and feeling less stressed in a situation like this?
Here is a summary of my 3-step process.
- Express Gratitude
There is always a silver lining! Find it, recognize it, and express gratitude.
- Send Well Wishes
Whether to a person, place, or thing that is the trigger or center of the stressful scene, send well wishes, a blessing, or a prayer for the best outcome for them to experience health, happiness, healing, joy, or anything positive. Through a heart of compassion, you will find they are suffering in some way too.
- Envision a Positive Outcome
Visualization is a powerful tool that high-achieving people use all the time to create better outcomes. In that moment, what can you envision amidst the circumstances to be in your favor? Focus on positive outcomes and see them in your mind.
- And a Bonus Tip
Forgive yourself. Let yourself off the hook. If you are doing your best, that’s enough.
Stress, emotions, and mindset are connected at the hip. The more we care about something or are responsible for something, and disruption happens, stress levels go up. It’s normal.
How else can we navigate situations the moment stress arises?
In my above example, shifting my mindset to being grateful and sending wishes for wellness helped me say “no” to the spiral of stress.
If you can take that example and apply it to a situation to reduce your stress and your reaction, and come away with high-vibration energy, wonderful!
To give you yet another alternative, in my research to find a simple formula to find relief in stressful situations, I came upon a great article that relates to handling stressful conversations and family dynamics during the holidays. This applies to any complicated conversation or interaction at any time of year.
This formula was shared on Psychology Today in an article by Steven C. Hayes Ph.D.
O = Observe
The first step of the formula is to observe. Not in a critical way, but in an unfiltered one. Like a camera capturing the events unfolding in the present moment. What is there for you to perceive? Look outside of you and what happens around you. But also look inside, and observe what happens for you internally. What shows up in your body? What shows up in your mind? The first step is to observe without judgment.
N = Note
The second step is noting and describing what you observe. You don’t have to do it out loud (thought this would make for an interesting dinner conversation). Instead, note it mentally, just for yourself. Again, your task is to leave judgment out of the equation. Observe and note what you observe. Like a scientist on a new planet, gathering data. “There is irritation.” “There is Uncle Phil telling a scatological joke.” “There is Aunt Vivian criticizing my dress.” And so on.
A = Allow
The last step of the formula is to allow and even appreciate what you observed and noted. Your mind may go into a judgmental posture of “this shouldn’t happen” or “when is this going to end?” This is when you gently observe and note that as well. Allow yourself space for not just pleasant, but also difficult experiences. Your judgmental mind may disagree and demand that the present be anything other than what it is. And it’s true: if a situation is truly unsafe, psychologically or physically, you may need to intervene and change the situation or remove yourself from it. Even then, however, you can appreciate how observing and noting your emotion without judgment allows you to sense what is present so you can decide if you have to take steps. More often than not, however, you will gain a more general sense of safety and room to be yourself with a posture of mindful awareness and maybe even appreciation of what is difficult for you. You can learn that it is safe to be more fully you, with your history and its echoes into the current situation.
For more resources and tools to create a life with less stress as well as tools for navigating stress in the moment, check out The Wellness Universe Guide to Complete Self-Care, 25 Tools for Stress Relief (a 5-star Amazon best-seller).
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Anna is the founder of The Wellness Universe website. Her lifetime goal is creating positive energy, bringing people together and inspiring you to be your best to manifest your dreams and create a better world.