Change, Transformation and Stress
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.
Responding VS Reacting to Change
We can get caught up in railing against stress triggers and the pressure of change and there is some merit in being able to vent. However, if we do not move past that stage we will only groove ruts (unhelpful reactive responses that go on autopilot) within our nervous systems. These can become sensitized triggers for even more anger, and frustration etc. So what are we to do?
Challenges can be a powerful opportunities for learning positive inner tools for self care‚ These tools will bring more inner peace, well-being personal and spiritual development than anything we chase in the outer world.
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, overwhelm. and 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 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.