Change…it is a constant in life and if we are to thrive in life we need the appropriate means to to be clear, centered and balanced.
If we are to be the best we can be in caring for other, s then we must be the best for ourselves first.
These are stressful times! You may feel that everywhere you look –in your life or in the world there seems to be another reason to feel tense, upset, frenzied or anxious. Transitions and changes seem to be everywhere. During such times it is more important than ever to have good stress management tools to prevent toxic effects from taking hold.
Stress has been defined as wear and tear on the body and mind as we adapt to change.
We are all aware that change causes stress. We are also aware at some level of the signs that we are stressed. What we are not aware of however are the changes that go on inside us that create the wear and tear that eventually takes a toll on our health and well being. The good news is that we can do something about that wear and tear!
Change, stress and the fight-flight response
We respond to stress with the fight flight response. all body systems are switched on as we are prepared to fight or flee. If our stress is physical then we re-balance once the stress is past. If our stress is mental or emotional our system does not re-balance itself. In order to make that happen we need to engage the mind and body in a way that triggers the relaxation response. If we have a practice that conditions the body to routinely experience the relaxation response then we not only dump the toxic effects of stress but we also develop resiliency that helps to meet future stress with more calmness.
How to trigger the relaxation response
Many people believe that if they exercise, have hobbies, play sports or engage in some form of entertainment that they are addressing stress. Not true. Those things are great for play and for affecting physical toning but they do not reach the level of the mind-body connection where we can turn on the relaxation response, heal at a cellular level and build resilient energy.
What does turn on this response is Meditation and deep relaxation. Science has provided a great deal of research that corroborates the health benefits of these techniques.
Other things that can supplement a meditation practice and help tone our nervous system are learning to breathe properly, energy work that you receive or that you learn to do yourself, and techniques such as imagery, and visualization. All are helpful methods that can be used alone, or woven into a more comprehensive personal stress management program.
Additional tools for managing the stress of change
Another useful concept for navigating the process of change, whether it is initiated by us or from the outside, is that of support. In spite of myths that tout extreme independence, all successful growth and development requires adequate support.
Support does not mean the same thing to all people. We must each ask ourselves what our particular needs are on any particular day. Taking some time to identify what support means to us helps open up the possibility of receiving.
What works for one person may not work for another. Also, you may need different types of support at different times as you navigate the stages of change. It is always wise to have a variety of tools available to help you navigate change as well as your path in life.
So begin by asking what support means to you. What types are important to you? Where can you look for that help? This includes people, places and things! How often will you need these resources? Obviously there will be things you can do for yourself, but you may also need others. Who are they? Can you ask them ahead of time to be available to ensure that what you need will be forthcoming? Do you need professional support, a group or some skill building?
Having a list of all the ways that you may be able to offer yourself support can be useful. When we are stressed our thinking mind tends to shut down and we may not be able to sort out what we need. If it is available to you in written form it can really strengthen your chances of success.
Perhaps also writing out the positives that will result from the change you are going through can help give you some confidence when the going gets rough. You may also want to write out some encouraging statements on index cards and carry them with you. A friend who has committed to be an aid can be of invaluable help especially if they have gone through similar circumstances.
These approaches may seem self evident in a lot of ways, but they tend to be things we overlook maybe because of their simplicity. Nonetheless they can help make a difference in whether you just survive or thrive through transition.