This is a good topic to cover regardless of what may be going on in the world at the present moment. It is good to have a mental and emotional toolkit available on how to relieve stress and anxiety.
Wherever you look, it is not hard to find a few, and sometimes many folks, who are in a high anxiety state, and stressing out about this or that. The main problem with this is that it has become the norm and not the exception in how these people deal with life. We all have our moments, and even days, which challenge us greatly, but it really becomes an issue when it is an everyday affair.
Caught Up in the Reaction Mode
When stress and anxiety have become the “go-to” way of handling our day-to-day challenges and encounters, then we have developed the nasty habit of “reacting” to the many people and events that have come into our lives. They all act as triggers that set off our thoughts and emotions in a habitual fashion.
The best example of this is your kids if you have children. Over time, they will have learned all of your “hot buttons”, which trigger an emotional response. They have you figured out completely whether you realize it or not. On the positive side, they can be some of our best teachers by making us aware of our thought processes and emotional triggers.
When we are in such a “reactive mode”, it is very hard for us to think clearly, and thus see what is actually going on. In this state of upset and confusion, we are unable to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes or mental/emotional state, so that we can understand why they are acting in such a way. We definitely are not willing to empathize at all and forget about compassion, because that is not even on the table as an option.
In the “reactive mode”, we are the victim, and the world or individual aspects of it, are at fault. Our “go-to strategies” are blame, guilt, and judgment. The way we see things is that if it wasn’t for them or that particular event, things would be hunky-dory or everything would just be fine.
Now, when we are operating under such a frame of reference, are we to expect anything other than stress and anxiety? After all, we have invested a lot of time, thought, emotion, and effort in getting all worked up on what is transpiring “outside” of us. There is a clue here to be recognized, and maybe it will become more evident as we proceed.
Now I do want to mention briefly before we go on, that there is a type of stress which is beneficial to us, but that is not what we are talking about here. That type of stress is what will get us moving to accomplish our goals, and nudge us out of our comfort zones. In this case, it is doing us a favor. The main difference is we are not reacting to something, but are carrying out our intention to move forward or improve in some aspect of our lives.
“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.” –- Deepak Chopra —
Some Helpful Ideas
At this point, if you are really stressed out on a rather frequent basis, you probably are looking for some sort of quick fix to relieve this quite annoying state. Also, there is much medical evidence that stress can lead to not only mental and emotional challenges but physical ones as well.
It’s one thing with getting upset about this or that, but when you realize it can make you physically ill as well, this is definitely a wake-up call to find some suitable options.
Now here are a few ideas to add to your Emotional and Mental Health Toolkit which can help get you by on a daily basis. Realize though that these are only temporary fixes that address the symptoms of reacting to life by getting upset. At this point, we are not dealing with the cause of all this craziness.
It is similar to when I worked in the mental health field and would consult with the staff psychiatrists about the use of psychotropic medications with our clients. Most of them considered them as a long term fix, rather than an intermediary way to allow a person to function and stay safe, while they were receiving adequate therapy which would root out the main causes of their mental health challenges.
Unfortunately, having been trained in the medical model of “Drug Therapy” at their respective medical schools, the quick fix of meds was the way to go. Over the years, I have had a few heated discussions about this topic, but fortunately, there are a few mental health professionals who see the light and have attained remarkable results with their clients. Also, more and more medical folks are waking up to this as time progresses.
Okay, let’s get back here for a few “quick fixes” of our own. Now I know many people may be on pharmaceutical medications to address their stress and anxiety or other health challenges, so it is important when making any changes in routine to consult your doctor. That being said, I am going to suggest a few of the more natural alternatives which are available to you.
All of these are good things to do even if you are presently feeling great, so here we go:
- Write in a Journal — when you are able to get things out of your head onto some sort of recording device, you can then see things a bit more clearly, and then determine if it is bothering you makes sense or not.
- Lots to Be Grateful For — needless to say, there is so much in our lives right now for which to have some gratitude. Instead of comparing ourselves to others who we see as being in a better position than ourselves, which may or may not be true, we can instead choose to be genuinely content and even happy about where we are, and appreciate that things are not worse than they are. Just waking up and being alive for another day is something of value and for which to be grateful.
- Find Some Stuff to Laugh About — this always works and really should be part of our daily routine. In fact, Norman Cousins used laughter to bring himself back to health from a so-called “incurable” illness. He describes the whole process in his book, Anatomy of an Illness.
- Get Some Sleep — it is quite important for our physical, mental, and emotional makeup to have sufficient rest. When we are tired, we are most vulnerable to “reacting” to stuff very easily. If necessary, take a nap or two during the day, even if it is only for ten (10) or twenty (20) minutes. You may be surprised at how quickly you are rejuvenated.
- A Little Bit of Exercise — this is not only good for our dealing with upsets during the day, but getting into motion, and even sweating a bit, does remarkable things for our overall health on many levels. One thing is it lowers the stress hormone cortisol while elevating the more desirable hormones of serotonin (the chemical which regulates happiness) and dopamine (the neurotransmitter for drive and determination), while elevating our metabolism as well. It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise, whether you go for a brisk walk, jog a bit, do some jumping jacks, work out at the gym, dancing, yoga, or bouncing a bit at home on a mini-trampoline (this also clears out toxins in your body by activating your lymphatic system).
- Natural Food Supplements — there are many supplements on the market today which can be of help. Do a little research, talk to others, and you will find what works best for you. It is always best to check this out with your medical physician, especially if you are on any type of medication, since some of these supplements may not interact well with them.
- Music and Dance — music has a healing effect on us, and dancing gets us moving so we are able to distract ourselves from whatever may be worrying us at the moment. If you just want to mellow out classical, Celtic, and nature sounds are a good way to go.
- Observe Nature — nature has it all together. It definitely goes with the flow and appreciates the present moment. Spending a bit of time outdoors, taking in the natural sights and beauty will do wonders for you. Also, observing and spending time with our pets is rather soothing.
“You can’t always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.” –- Wayne Dyer —
Now that we have covered a few ways to handle the symptoms which show up as stress and anxiety, let’s dig a little deeper and see if we can discover their cause. Otherwise, we are always going to be stuck with having to “manage” our stress and anxious moments, rather than “eradicating” what caused them in the first place.
All of this depends entirely on our level of awareness. As our awareness increases, we gradually realize that what we thought was the cause of all our difficulties and uncomfortable states did not originate “out there” somewhere, but actually exists right “inside” ourselves. This is a revelation that should not be minimized in any way since it determines whether we see ourselves as a victim of circumstances or as the cause and creator of our experiences.
When we realize this and it actually sinks in, we will stop reacting to circumstances, people, and events, and allow whatever is out there just to be. With acceptance and surrender to “what is”, we have positioned ourselves to Respond as we desire. This entails us consciously thinking about what we want to think, based on what we want to receive. This is a world of difference from having what happens “out there” to determine what we think.
At this point, we have turned things around, and are more focused on “how” to think, which then determines “what” we think based on our desires and objectives.
Now I am the last person who is going to say that this is easy to do since we have spent the majority of our lives in our homes, schools, work environments, and public places surrounded by people who have been similarly indoctrinated. So it should come as no surprise what they are modeling and teaching. The “mass thought” or “herd mentality” is crippling to our overall effectiveness in life.
Learning to respond rather than react is vital to our well-being and ability to progress constructively in life. We learn how to think, rather than what to think. When we need “specialized knowledge” we know where to go and find it. Now, this type of transformation in our overall state of mind is going to take some sustained effort over a good period of time in order to create new habit patterns. To be totally honest, most people won’t do it, as evidenced by a quick look at the habitual patterns of most folks we observe on a daily basis. Only a small percentage of folks will pay the price.
But for those who do spend the time and effort in this direction, it is the most fulfilling and exuberant experience you can have. With this type of bravery, consistency, hard work, and actual suffering in the face of disappointments along the way, we form the type of habits which will be our “new normal” way to live. It is who we have become at this point that matters most.
Our emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual makeup will have evolved tremendously so that we not only achieve and receive more of what we most desire, but we increase our willingness to share what we have found with others so they can also release the old, and embrace the new.
A German philosopher by the name of Arthur Schopenhauer, who was a pretty smart guy, had this to say: “Most people take the limits of their vision to be the limits of the world. A few do not. Join them.”
I strongly encourage you to “join them”.
May you all Discover what Already resides Within,
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