The Internal Tools for Stress Management
When someone asks you about your stress level, do you respond to the question with the list all of those pressures you feel from the outside world. Work deadlines, family responsibilities, financial concerns, health concerns, too much to do and not having near enough time. Venting about all of those overwhelming life events can help, but venting alone doesn’t really solve the problem. The idea of stress coming from things outside of ourselves actually creates more stress.
Stress is real. It has huge physical and emotional consequences if prolonged, intense stress is experienced. It causes headaches, digestive problems, sleep disorders, along with more serious medical problems as a result of the chronic “dis-ease” of feeling under the gun all the time. It also makes us restless, irritable, less productive, and not very fun to be around.
So what if the stress was actually internal vs. external? What I mean by that, is what if the stress is not really coming from the outside pressures but from the way we experience and even create our lives. I say this not to be accusing or blaming, but to encourage you to view it from this angle because that's where your power really lies to bring yourself relief.
A lot of things we percieve as causing us stress are a result of the pressure we put on ourselves. WE say yes to things because we don't want to let anyone down, or we feel it will bring us something positive. We may feel obligated and can't imaging saying no to a request. We may many times even feel like we don't have a right to say no. In these cases, the idea of the tool of boundaries, is usually a great solution. Setting boundaries encapsulates the idea of understanding that we all have limits. It is saying no. It is not saying we don't want to help, assist, be of service, it means we own that we just can't. It’s tough because sometimes what we have to say no to is something we really enjoy or feel would be meaningful. Deep down, we have to accept that we all have finite amounts of time and energy and that no is not mean, it's an act of self love to preserve our overall well being.
Sometimes stress comes from our emotional life hijacking our decisions. We let those sides of ourselves that are tough to look at run the show. They may include our need to people please, be perfect, be important, have status, have glory or reap financial rewards. It's tough to look at that sometimes, but when we can take our egos out of the equation we find that the drive to take on more subsides. I'm not suggesting we don't have responsibilities or tend to those responsibilities, I'm suggesting we really explore if they are OUR responsibilities or things we take on for hidden motives. There is an expression...am I a victim or a volunteer?
Often, the solution to stress is spiritual. We get caught up in the pressures and pains other people are experiencing. We also can believe we must be the one to save, rescue and fix the problems of those we love and the world around us. It's as if we tell ourselves "if I don't do this then awful things will happen." I’ve been around long enough to know that isn’t the case. Sometimes we have to tap into the universal energy that everything will get done and unfold as it is supposed to without us intervening. The other side of that coin, is that when I jump in I rob the other people in my life of getting the benefit that comes from meeting a challenge and finding their own solution.
Stress is here but we really do have options in how we deal with it all. Let us know your thoughts and ideas/tools for how you manage stress in your life!