“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up”
(Proverbs 12:25, NIV).
Over the years, I have experienced a variety of stress types, and basically narrowed it down to two kinds: good stress and bad stress. We all have an idea what bad stress feels like.
We feel it in our body in the form of tension headaches to severe migraines, shoulder pain, chest tightness, fatigue and anxiety spiraling into nervous breakdowns. "Manage your stress" they say, I've tried and failed many times, when I did succeed, it was momentary, I soon fell off the stress management bike and found it difficult to get back on. So I begun meditating. It helped release the stress but it didn't make it go away for good. I found it stressful to find time to meditate. And when I organized time for it, I stressed over the fact that I didn't have a proper environment in which to meditate comfortably and without distractions.
So I took care of that as well by creating a space I called "my yoga room". A quiet corner of our guest room, void of clutter. A beautiful painting from Thomas Kinkade on one wall (see picture right), and a portrait of an angel on the other. A rustic wood table with scented candle, CD player for soothing music while I practice my asanas, and of course a Persian rug to bring warm colors to the otherwise neutral tones of my room. I make an appointment with myself each morning in the yoga room. Breathing exercises, stretches, aligning my posture, and surrendering my weight to the pull of the gravity, all these practices causing my tension to slowly melt away. It works! However I discovered another way to deal with daily stress, this discovery comes in two parts:
1. Acceptance of stress as part of my life
2. The practice of non-resistance
When I accepted that I can't eliminate stress from my life entirely, I begun recognizing the good stress, even being grateful for it. Stress pushes me to do things I would never do. It gives me the needed energy to meet work deadlines, multitask and see results. Good stress is "fun". You're on the go, the world awaits, things get done, and you feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day - you achieved many things you might not have if "stress" didn't kick in and tell you to go, go go!
Bad stress, as mentioned above, depletes your energy. This is when you should practice non-resistance. When you're always bracing yourself against the force of crushing waves, it will hurt. But when you let go, the waves will carry you gently to shore. I learned to stop myself from reacting when I'm about to confront any stress that threatens my peace. Instead I surrender, and let it wash over me. After all, think about it for a minute...
Whether you stress over it or not, what will be, will be. As the famous Paul McCartney song so wisely states "Let it Be". Letting go and surrendering any situation to that which is bigger than you, I personally call this bigger-than-me-thing "God", some call it the Universe or the Source; when you surrender and trust that no matter what the outcome of any situation you might be facing in your life, you will be fine... then you will ride the stress wave and not let it crush you.
This is my experience, if you have your own ways of dealing with stress today, please comment and share with us.