I had a headache that lasted 3 days. A headache that made it hurt to think, something I like to do all day long, everyday and nonstop. And a headache that brought me face to face with the demon that is better known as stress!
During those hours, a lot happened to me but nothing happened to the headache. I gave in to the frustration and moodiness that my headache brought about and behaved way out of character. I cried. I sat around wasting precious hours idly because I couldn’t focus. I blamed the hurricane, the clouds, and even the figs in the most delicious raw dessert my husband has ever baked as possible allergy but kept eating them anyway. I yelled at my sweet innocent husband. I went shopping and bought beautiful clothes that I did not need with time and money that I did not have – ok, I had both but chose to spend them poorly. I paced the house complaining and speculating. I tried home remedies. I pretended it’s all in my head (clever, no?). I meditated and did a 2-hour yoga practice and stayed away from my Mac. I went walking. I did deep breathing. I drank countless cups of Oolong tea and plenty of water. I watched a funny movie. I slept 8 hours straight and woke up without an alarm.
All to no avail.
Now, I know why. My headache was a pure sign of stress, that ugly awful beast that I have yet to defeat in this life.
Do you know stress? Have you had encounters with it before? And more importantly, have you recognized it behind its veil?
You cannot trick stress into leaving. You cannot tell it stories and expect it to believe you. You have to acknowledge its real existence. You should give it some credit for the massive power it holds over us intelligent beings, and then you have to go after it like Uma Thurman goes after Bill in Quentin Tarantino’s genius movies, Kill Bill.
Go after stress with all you have. Do it with precision. With intention. With power and persistence. With a tenacity that won’t back down until it prevails.
Stress, I realize now, does not exclusively impair those working stressful jobs or facing obviously stressful circumstances in life. Stress is not conducive of environment; stress is conducive of a person’s reaction to life. Stress is self-induced. The seemingly luckiest and richest person in the world could be more stressed than the most unfortunate soul facing problem after problem because it is all about how you as a person perceive the world and the circumstances around you and how you choose to react to them.
The path to worry is irresistibly inviting. The road to anxiety calls our name. There are far too many reasons to give in to worry, plus we feel strangely productive when we worry, as though worry equates solving a problem.
Stress wins every time. Stress doesn’t even have to try that hard. We have made it so easy for stress to “get to us”, so easy to let stress take over our mind and our thoughts and with it, we give our actions over to it and blame stress. We have accepted stress as the norm and as an excuse to live less than a full life. We have allowed stress to impact what could be remarkable that instead turns out mediocre. We have let stress come into the most private and intimate moments of our lives and leave its ugly footprint.
We have let stress mess up our art and our genius. We have handed over the key to our true well-being. We might have very well said, “Please, take the key and do what you will to me. I will not fight. I am weak and stupid and will let you walk all over me!”
We have made friends with an enemy that laughs in our face every day because it would be so easy to kick it out for good if only we woke up and used our powers smartly for once.
How do you say no to stress and yes to the liberating thought of accepting what you can change and what you cannot change.
Sometimes, stress can enhance the situation. Seth Godin writes in his blog post,
James Bond is a hero because the tougher the world got, the cooler he got. Symphony conductors don’t endure the pressure of a performance, they thrive
In this reality, how do you handle stress? Is this not a better way to face it?
Mine is ever a work in progress but I see tiny bits of movement in the right direction and I am highly encouraged. Here’s a process I learned from those beautiful movements for you:
- Recognize stress under its many veils. It does not come with introductions.
- Accept that it is real and can be powerful beyond measure if you allow it. Do not fool around with the power of stress.
- Decide consciously not to allow it to take over your good attitude. Make this decision loudly and clearly.
- Choose a mantra, a phrase that you will repeat over and over to reaffirm a belief in your mind. One of my favorite mantras is: “I am strong and willing.” and one of my husband’s favorites for me is “Acknowledge and release.”
- Take deep breaths, even if this is not a situation where you are not in physical distress. I devoted an entire video to advanced breathing techniques in The 10 Minute Daily Invigorator. Now, that was fun to create!
- Consider it a challenge, a test, a way to find out your patience and persistence, your depth of knowledge in yourself, and your abilities in interacting with your world. I devote an entire podcast on just talking about our daily interactions.
- Believe in your ability to find a solution. My Dad used to say that every problem has a solution. I used to believe it as fact. I tend to forget it often. Here’s to remembering it again.
- Remember what you did that worked well in this stressful situation. It will likely work again. Remember the details; trust me, it is not ridiculous to think about the process and repeat it again.
And when I do follow these steps, the process works. Stress retreats. Serenity returns. Life begins to unfold its magic again.
What about you? What powerful tools do you pack as a strong and fit warrior to defeat stress in your life? Tell me everything!!!
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