We have all read about how stress is a killer, that it really shortens our lives and is possibly the greatest contributor to an early departure. The more that I work with people the more I see the truth of this statement. While many of us spend time doing all or much of what we can to lead a healthy lifestyle, we often ignore the effects of stress. Yet if we do search for health then we need to start with our minds and stress would be top of our list.
Stress may also be called ‘strain’ and strain does seem to describe the physical effects it has on us in a better way. Basically, it is the machinations of our minds and therefore our thinking that produces this bodily stress and strain and if we do not become aware of the effects it will most likely break us. The catalogue of illnesses that are now laid at the door of this destructive force seems to grow by the day.
Stress lies at the gateway of our independence, the aspect of our lives when we firmly believe we have to do it all. There is no one or nothing around to help us get through our ‘to-do’ list – we have to do all the heavy lifting because if we don’t do it it will not get done. This way of thinking sets us on a path of increasing strain and our attempts to hide it under a laid back posture only displaces our hidden stress onto those around us.
Physically, stress shrinks our brain. We stop producing new brain cells and fall into a cycle of sleeplessness, anxiety and depression. New neuroscience is showing this process under the microscope, which only reinforces what we intuitively know. How often have we told ourselves, “I’ll just get to the end of this project, or this relationship, and everything will be ok?” But notice how there is always the next project, or the next issue, that needs our undivided effort.
When we are stressed we are caught in our left brain, our masculine thinking, where the solution to every problem is that we need to do something. As we look at our world and all the problems, we see a lot of doing. We live as if there is nothing around us greater than ourselves and, even if there is, we don’t deserve any help. We are no longer the loveable lucky one that is handed good things on a plate.
Our way through is by letting go of this independence, this belief that it is only us who can handle what needs to be handled; instead we recognise there are other forces that can come to our aid. The switch involves us valuing our creative and intuitive mind, our right brain or our feminine aspect. This allows solutions that appear to come from outside of us and seem to fall into our laps. To understand this principle makes us great at goal setting, remembering that we need to choose the goal but let go of how we’re going to get there. We open the door to forces outside ourselves to come to our aid. We exclude help if we plan each step.
If you imagine a continuum with 0 being total stress and 100 being total freedom from stress, where would you put yourself today? What duties and concerns would you be willing to let go of right now? How much of your independence would you be willing to surrender? It’s a process we are all in, it’s the journey we are all taking, and as we become aware we make it easier to be proactive about letting go of our stress.
How would this coming Christmas look or be if we made it about sharing and not about doing?
.Click here for an another stress related article.