The Spiritual Path is Walked Here on Earth
In the search for greater meaning, we often overlook the opportunities for expanded awareness and spiritual growth that present themselves on a daily basis. There is a lot of talk about preparedness these days, but not many are addressing something that can affect the way in which we respond to these changing energies: stress and what we can do to mitigate its effects on our bodies and our minds.
Today’s Morning Coffee was about the stress that often comes with family gatherings this time of year. This article will offer a few suggestions on how to cope with stressful situations and people. Stress can be managed. Perhaps this year will be a growing time for you. You will know you have transcended the situation if you are able to maintain your center and be at peace in the presence of someone or something that usually knocks you off your emotional foundation. These suggestions also apply to the larger changes we are experiencing now, and would include the sense of uncertainty that many are feeling.
Stress is described as the ‘normal’ physical response to a real or imagined danger. When we feel threatened, a cascade of automatic responses happens in our body that affects our entire system. When the stress response is activated, the body begins to takes steps to protect itself. This wondrous survival mechanism is hard-wired from the time of the dawn of man and hasn’t changed much since then, despite the drastic changes in how we interact with our environment.
If you pay attention when you are feeling stressed out, you will become aware of some of these reactions: heart rate and respiration usually increase, fluttery sensation in the pit of your stomach, nervousness, sweating perhaps, blood pressure rises and you may even get a dry mouth.
Once the threat has passed, the body functions return to normal. Many people find themselves challenged by chronic stress these days, and their bodies are paying a heavy price. The suggestions offered here can be employed to bring stress levels down whether it’s an acute situation like a family gathering or a chronic stress situation.
I used the word ‘manage’ earlier. What did I mean? To manage stress means how a person handles it, how they deal with it. The unhealthy ways we often choose to handle stress include: smoking, drinking, over- or under-eating, avoidance (zoning out in front of the TV for example), procrastination, sleeping too much, or taking the stress out on those around us.
There is a better way. Here are some alternatives to consider:
Stay away from whatever is stressing you out. If you can, take control of your environment and avoid the person or situation that stresses you out. I have problems in heavy urban traffic, especially at rush hour. Because I know this stresses me out, I do whatever I can whenever I can to avoid it. I will take a longer route, change the time I leave or arrive, or choose not to go out during those peak periods.
I also know that discussing politics or religion will sometimes cause me stress. I avoid discussing those topics except with very close friends or relatives.
Having too much on my plate can stress me out. I have learned to jettison the “I probably should do this” items from my list, and I keep only the “things I have to do” items on the list.
Then I rank them in order and put the necessary ones at the top: food purchases, bill paying, laundry…Sometimes things get dropped off the list altogether. Oh, well. The important things got done.
If you cannot change what’s causing the stress, can you alter or adapt? We usually cannot change the fact of the family gathering, but maybe we can make some compromises or manage our time better to mitigate the stress that often builds at this time of year. Remember it’s ok to speak up if you really don’t want to be the gathering place for Christmas dinner this year.
If you can’t change it, then look for a way to re-frame it for yourself. Ask yourself: What is the silver lining here for me? Is there a young niece or nephew or grandchild you don’t get to see very often? Look forward to the time you will get to spend with them. And don’t forget to think about the big picture. How much does the gathering really matter in the long run? Is it really worth getting into a froth over? The answer will most likely be “no”. So relax.
Focus on the positives. Be grateful for the blessings you’ve been given whatever they are. Reach out to others less fortunate if you can. That will raise your vibration and automatically pull you out of the denser energy of frustration, irritation, anger or angst.
Remind yourself that you are human, and that you are doing the best you can. Because you are human, you are by default therefore NOT perfect. Do not demand perfection of yourself or the situation. Set reasonable expectations for yourself this year, and be forgiving of yourself if you don’t meet them.
Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. ~ John Ortberg
All original material posted to this site is (c) 2012, Julie Marie. All rights reserved.