Stress is a creeper in our lives. We are so busy “doing” that we don’t notice all of that “getting it done” is coming from a place of fight or flight. When (if) we stop, we finally notice that we are worn out, exhausted, sleeping poorly, and anxious.
So what to do? We feel more stressed trying to solve stress because we know what to do, and with best intentions, most of us aren’t doing it. No bubble baths, daily meditation, counting our breath. No funny movies to replace the news (facebook), no earlier bed time, and no daily yoga. So, we keep “doing”, busily checking off the to-do’s on our list all the while giving ourselves a failing grade (judgement) on our self-care habits.
Sounds like a fabulous way to treat the person with whom we have our most intimate relationship, huh?
I’m an advocate for all the “things” we can do to reduce stress with a particular affinity for breath work and a physical yoga practice. These are miracle workers in my life, and there is something even simpler that requires no extra time or special outfit.
The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to
choose one thought over another.
Where we place our attention expands. For most of us lowly curious-about but not yet enlightened souls, our thoughts bubble up without us noticing. This idea of choosing our thoughts seems almost laughable as our thoughts are grooved deeply into our subconsciousness and then, via bullet train, blast through to our consciousness.
What we can do is observe the thoughts upon arrival at the station, and then decide which to leave on the train, which to reshape, and which to embrace. Sometimes the thought is deeply seeded, negative and easily refutable.
Think the “big story” in your life: I’m not good enough, I’m not smart, I’m too fat….. These stories require intentional abandonment moment by moment and replacement with soul speak. I am enough exactly as I am, I love myself as I am.” Thich Nhat Hanh teaches to say “Dear One, I am here for you.”
Sometimes the thought is about the daily happenings, our perceptions of others, or our ruminations on the past and future. Think “I can’t believe he said that, and she thinks I’m….”
I practice reframing these thoughts into questions. How true is that? What am I making that mean? How can I contribute to something better in this situation?
There is one tool that can be used in almost all situations: gratitude. When your mind is swimming, just begin speaking aloud your blessings. There’s something powerful about hearing your voice say thank you over and over that quiets the mind, expands the heart, and drains the negativity.