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December 10, 2015

Hitting the Off Button on Stress—An Essential Skill.

Bino Storyteller/Unsplash

Here is the most beautiful thing I discovered recently: The rest we need to be healthy and happy is embedded right in the middle of our busy-ness.

We don’t need to look outside of our day-to-day activities to find all the rest we need.

Yes, we have responsibilities.

Yes, there are things that have to get done.

But not all the time.

This is why we are all burning out, getting sick and feeling overwhelmed, because we are remaining in stress mode all the time.

We rush when we need to rush, and we push when we need to push, but then we keep rushing and keep pushing when there is no need to do either.

This is why it is so great to tune into moment-to-moment awareness.

We need to be able to ask ourselves the question, What is needed from me in this moment?

And the trick is, we need to be able to not only ask this question, but also hear the answer and appropriately respond.

This is no easy task.

This skill takes determination and patience.

But it an essential skill to living a healthy life.

Our human systems were not designed to be on high alert all the time.

Maybe there was a crisis in the morning. Maybe we almost missed the bus and needed to sprint the last block, or we were going to be late for an important meeting. Or maybe we almost rear-ended the car in front of us and spilled our coffee and needed to pull over and attend to our almost burned legs.

These things happen all the time; they are part of living in a human body.

Stress is going to happen.

This is so important to remember.

Stress happening is not a sign of failure. It isn’t a sign that we aren’t spiritual or successful with our mindfulness practice, or that we have screwed up in some way.

Stress is actually a sign that our physiological response is strong and active and that we are looking out for ourselves.

We need to get stressed. We need to go into action and take care of the situation when that is needed.

Sometimes we need to rush, we need to react, we even need to worry.

But this is only some of the time, and I know we are all rushing, reacting and worrying much, much more than some of the time.

That is why it is so great to recognize there is rest in the middle of the busy.

There are times when we have a meeting in an hour, but right now all we need to do is drink a cup of tea.

Yes, the mind keeps jumping to the meeting in an hour, but that meeting isn’t happening now. A cup of tea is happening now, and if we let our minds jump an hour ahead we miss the tea that is happening now, we stress for an hour more than we need to and we tax our systems because they aren’t designed to be on high alert all the time.

If we want to truly care for our bodies and minds, we need to find rest. Not just at night when it is time to go to sleep. But all through the day. My guess is that for most of us there are more moments in the day when our energy could be restful than we realize.

Why not find them?

All day we can ask ourselves, Do I need to be stressed? Am I in any type of danger or for any reason need to be on high alert?

If the answer is truly yes, then do what you need to do.

But if the answer is no, and there is no need to stress, then take a deep breath and let it all go. Come back to the moment and find the rest within the busy stress.

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Relephant Read:

How to switch the channel when you’re Stressed.

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Author: Ruth Lera

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Ilham Rahmansyah/Unsplash // Bino Storyteller/Unsplash

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