Some weeks present more challenges than others.
Whether you are older or younger, we all experience the effects of stress in our lives.
This past week, for me, has been one of those where one challenge has happened after another. They have all pulled my energy in different ways: Someone I love was faced with a health crisis that brought about a loss for my whole family, a client I care for has been faced with some difficult transitions that have required a lot of change and adjustment, and an opportunity that seems wonderful is taking me way outside of my comfort zone.
Stress is defined as something that you feel, not by what is going on around you, but by what is going on inside you.
I was giving a workshop recently to a group of elders and I asked them how they would define grace.
Their words were filled with the voice of wisdom.
One gentleman’s answer was so profound, I wanted to stop right in the middle of the workshop and write it down.
Coming to a sense of peace within yourself, is like seeing the ocean in a storm. The waves are bouncing, the sea looks dark, but underneath all is calm and still.
We have the ability to be in a state of peace or grace at all times, if we go within and be quiet, sink deep and know all things will pass.
Being in a state of inner turmoil reminds me of the fact that being human brings imperfection.
During stressful times, remembering this and accepting that both life and you are not always perfect is the first step to feeling more at peace.
As always, when life seems to have taken a dive into feeling like you have too much to handle, if you ask, an answer will come. I was introduced to a piece done by author and minister Joyce Meher called Five Ways to De-Stress last week and it was not until last night I realized how much I needed to stop and listen to her message.
The first thing that resonated with me was that trust is the answer to all frustration. When our lives become overloaded and we are facing uncertainty, loss and change, if we try to do it all alone the inevitable result is to feel stressed.
We have to learn to ask for help. That may be going to your own inner teacher or listening to the counsel of someone you trust.
We have to know when to be quiet and listen.
We have to know when to say no to things that are not serving us or that are not bringing joy into our lives. Yes, we have to become more disciplined.
Even when challenges are high, we have to stop and allow ourselves to laugh, to take a break, to give to ourselves. It is not easy to do when someone else is hurting, but if you don’t, soon you have two people in trouble and there is no peace in sight.
It is a good idea to ponder what the “peace stealers” are in your life. Rushing is one of mine.
If I have not taken the time to organize myself and feel I am going to be late with or to something, it makes me feel stressed.
I am far better to do the things that will prevent me from feeling rushed such as prepare things the night before or cut some things out that are not really necessary for me to do.
OK, I am still struggling with that last one.
Taking an inventory of what things in your life are really making you happy and what things are not, is time well spent to uncover some of the changes you may need to make moving forward.
Joyce offers five things to do to help you de-stress:
• Practice shrug therapy. Don’t waste the energy to have a full on fit about something you have no control over. Instead, shrug your shoulders and say “It is what it is.” Stop worrying about things you cannot change.
• Stay in your comfort zone. I found this rather a revelation as I seem to always be moving outside my comfort zone and advising others to do the same. What Joyce means by this is to recognize your limits and respect them. Stop doing things you are lousy at and focus on what you enjoy and what comes easily to you. It is good to stretch yourself and learn and grow, but perhaps don’t go right out into the vast enormity of space. Take a shorter trip to start.
• Eliminate everything in your schedule that is not bearing good fruit. We all have things we are doing that don’t give us a good positive feeling. Perhaps there is something we know we need to let go of, but hesitate taking the action to do so. Listening to gossip when we know it breeds negativity. Repeatedly letting someone complain to us when we know they will not do anything to help themselves. Watching too much TV and trying to vegetate our problems away.
• Exercise. Yes, short and simple. Not something we always like to hear, but consistent exercise, especially when it raises our heart rate, releases endorphins that make us feel better. It is one of the best stress relievers that can elevate our mood and reduce toxins in our bodies.
• Take time to relax and do things you enjoy. Reacquainting ourselves with pleasure and how to get into that zone is something I will explore fully in a workshop called The Pleasure Zone in May. Even as we have more time on our hands, not knowing how to play or relax can be stressful and something we have to relearn.
A Marcus Aurelius said:“Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it.”