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How to Stop Stressing Out

Mindful Monday – April 2, 2018

Stress: We all do it. We all have it.

What are you stressed about right now? Here are some guesses: Student loans, school shootings, bills, family problems, grades, traffic, the weather… Stress always finds a good reason for existing.

Here’s my foolproof, four-part system that will help you stop stressing out:

  1. Don’t stop stressing out. Yep, you read that right. Don’t stop stressing out. Accept that stress is here now, whether you like it or not. Allow the stress to be here.
  2. Location, location, location. Where are you holding onto stress in your body? You might be thinking – it’s not in my body, it’s all in my head. But believe it or not, your body and your mind are closely intertwined. Where are you holding muscle tension right now? In your neck, shoulders, temples, jaw? Are you slouched over or scowling? Are you nauseous? Is your chest tight? Is your heart pounding? Is there a lump in your throat? All you have to do is notice where stress is located in the body.  Sit with those sensations a moment. Are they getting more intense? Are they moving? If you are able to let go of some of the muscle tension in your body, all the better.
  3. Zoom out. What sorts of thoughts are going through your mind? Stress likes to give your thoughts a close-up. Zoom out, looking at your life like the impartial photographer behind the camera. Notice not only the things that are stressing you out (bills, grades, and so on), but also notice the themes of your thoughts (Self-judgement? Judgement of others? Willfulness? Wishing things were different than they are?). Then, notice how small your thoughts are in the greater context of your life, of all the lives that have come before you, and all the lives that will come after you.
  4. Care for yourself. First, be compassionate towards your stress. Say to your stress, “I see you. I hear you. I acknowledge you.” Again, don’t tell it to go away; stress hates being told what to do. Second, be compassionate towards yourself. Remind yourself that you are only human, and every human experiences stress. Then, do something small for yourself. Light a candle, take a bubble bath, make a cup of tea, sing in the shower, give someone a hug, think of three things for which you are grateful, or do whatever else you need to do to care for yourself. Continue to repeat #’s 2 and 3 as needed.

I wish you all a mindful Monday,

Rebecca

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