Whew! What a week (month/year!) this past one has been! It seems that the pace of life along with the pressure of change not only is not letting up but is accelerating and along with it emotional tensions run high.
Anger, fear, frustration and stress are all quite natural responses to the deep uncertainty created by times of profound transformation. We all know that upheaval is a natural part of change and restructuring, but that does not mean we are not going to have our very human responses to it. There’s no question that as a society we are having some profound growing pains and we as individuals are also experiencing our own version of the pressure cooker of transformation/change.
We can get caught up in railing against the more public displays of less than graceful management of change and there is some merit in being able to vent but unfortunately if we don’t do this with some consciousness we tend to groove ruts within our nervous systems that then become triggers for even more anger, frustration etc. So what are we to do?
Our current challenges can be a powerful learning ground for integrating our higher and lower consciousnessâ‚ AFGO, another flippin’ growth opportunity!
Self- care provides a soft landing place during stressful times
Unfortunately adaptation to stress has become so commonplace that it is often a major obstacle to the self-awareness necessary for skillful self-care. It is easy to become so used to “the way things are’ that you believe you are not being affected by stress. That, coupled with lack of understanding of how stress travels throughout our body-mind and perhaps a belief that we “should be able to handle this” (be tough, be strong, pretend you’re ok when you are not), is a mind- set is one that will allow stress to silently but steadily erode health over time.
An important first step to change this is to pay attention to feelings of tension and overwhelmâ‚¬Â¦. feelings of overload. These feelings are so widespread that they are often dismissed or accepted as par for the course. However, it is at this stage that there is a prime opportunity to change the way your body and mind are affected by stress.
We all need time to decompress to release the pent up feelings that naturally occur as we move through tense times. We need daily time to release and there are also times when we need a prolonged time of surrender to reboot and regroup before moving forward again. Unfortunately we tend to resist giving ourselves that time.
There has been more than enough documentation showing that prolonged stress leads to anger, anxiety, depression and illness. It is even a factor in many accidents. We need to care enough about ourselves to learn how we really work and what we need to do to truly take care of ourselves. The more self- awareness and self- care we embrace, the greater self-empowerment and control we take of ourselves, life and health AND the greater capacity for navigate the uncertain territory of change.
What is optimal “self” care and how can you practice it?
Self- care requires truly understanding yourself from the inside out and balancing the needs of your body, mind and spirit. It involves taking time to nourish yourself every day and knowing your trigger points. Once you are aware of the different stressors that impact you, you can learn tools, techniques and resources to help to discharge its effects and become more resilient.
Because we are complex Beings made up of mind, body and spirit we need a variety of approaches to the stresses of life. Some of these will target one aspect of ourselves and others may address one or more facets of our nature. E. G. Our bodies respond to good nutrition and exercise but this has less effect on our mind and emotions than cognitive or emotional release techniques. Methods such as deep relaxation and meditation can have a broader effect on all our parts. Energetic approaches have the advantage of going deep to the core of ourselves so offer a more holistic approach to stress than some others.
The best approach to stress is to have a full tool kit that takes our complexity into account.
Self-Awareness Provides a Foundation for Stress Management
Our minds are a major player in both the creation and management of stress.
With a bit of focus we can be more aware of the continuous stream of that flow through our minds. Beneath them there is often another stream of “thought” that has more to do with feelings, beliefs and views about ourselves, others and life itself! Because of the nature of the ‘conversation’ at this level, intellectual, planning or strategizing aren’t very effective at rooting out the problem effects.
Giving ourselves time on a regular basis to let the conscious mind quiet down, decompress and let go allows us to “hear” the deeper river of thought and feeling that moves through us so we can employ appropriate methods to shift what needs to be shifted to give us more freedom. Once we understand what is happening there, we can release old worn out beliefs that no longer serve us, erase negative thoughts and feelings and create a fertile ground for approaches that will genuinely guide us toward the life we want to live.
It is in that space’ that you will come to really know yourself and be able to not only understand your triggers, but also have a clearer knowledge regarding what the solutions are. As brilliant as your everyday mind is, it is your quieter inner self’ that holds the wisdom that will bring you to a rich, satisfying healthy way of being. In this quieter space questions can be asked that guide you toward your own strategic plan for inner world peace! Ultimately working with this level of mind also leads us to the higher consciousness some of us seek.
Questions that can help you on this part of the journey: Where am I too attached to outcomes? Where and why do I care too much? Where are my personal boundaries and responsibilities? Are my expectations of self and other realistic? If I change my way of approaching this situation, what is my worst fear? Is it realistic? What are healthy alternatives?
Times of change and uncertainty provide ripe ground for our fears and personal myths to emerge. Instead of allowing them to remain out of awareness where they are free to create chaos or employing ineffective means to manage and control them, we can choose methods that provide us a way out– a way to personal emotional freedom and inner balance. Willingness to try a different approach, patience for the learning curve and a commitment to be gentle and kind to yourself will benefit you personally and professionally.
You are an individual with unique needs. Therefore, self- care needs to be designed for where you are at any particular moment in time. When you spend time getting to know yourself, you can try many different things and learn what works best for you. Take nutrition for example, we all need to eat a healthy and balanced diet every day. The personal choices we make to get there can vary greatly. Some people may feel better with high levels of protein while others feel better with more carbohydrates. Some people enjoy eating meat while others prefer a vegetarian diet. It is the same for inner work; choices made from a foundation of true self-knowledge will be more effective and bring you to your goals faster. In essence, it is really learning to live from the inside out. Learn about what is available and then do what truly feels right for you.
These are challenging times to be sure but as is always the case, times of crisis also offer great opportunities for growth and advancement. In many ways it seems we rise to the occasion better when our backs are to the wall! Well, here we are. There is a lot we as individuals may not be able to do to affect the world situation, but we can each tend our own garden so our corner of the world is a more peaceful, cooperative and nurturing place.