April is Stress Awareness Month – the goal of which is to learn ways to cope with our stress in a healthy manner.
We already know that we need to practice self care, schedule in exercise, etc. We know the inspirational one-liners – “let it go” or “just think calm thoughts.” We know all the things, and might even do some of them. Yet, it seems like stress is still a main theme in our lives.
… Why? Because no amount of self care or positive thinking will ever dig you out of the prison-like hole that is the foundation of limiting ideologies from which your stress arises. In other words, you’re stuck in an infinite loop of stress that looks something like this:
stress increase – stress relief – achieve neutral baseline – stress increase – stress relief – achieve neutral baseline…
And so on and so forth, unless we step back and take an honest look at our core beliefs about stress.
The following 3 ideas will help you do this. Please remember that, while provocative, these ideas are an invitation for self-examination grounded in love and understanding.
- Stop acting like work is out to get you. When we believe work is the enemy, work naturally becomes an insurmountable source of stress, tension, meltdowns, and exhaustion. Consider these questions: Are we being chased down by a wild animal at work? (No.) Then why do we put ourselves into flight or fight mode while actively earning sustenance – the very opposite of being in imminent danger? Is this necessary? Who or what is making us feel like this? Are those people or things the absolute truth? (Hint – they’re not)
- Constant stress = elective self abuse. When someone tells me that they’re stressed all the time, they’re inadvertently telling me that they are continuously ignoring their most fundamental needs. In my work, I come across many stressed individuals seeking alleviation via meditation. I have come to understand that their constant stress is an indication that they are willingly ignoring, shutting up, shoving aside, and in general abusing themselves. Yes, willingly. If this feels true for you, what part of you thinks it’s ok to ignore yourself like this? Do you want to give that part of you so much power over how you live your life?
- You’re not held hostage by your thoughts. You are not held hostage by your chattering brain and stream of stressful thoughts. Unless you allow it, or are operating under the impression that it’s just the way things are. Consider your free will to communicate with this chaos. Try kindly, gently, and firmly communicating with your brain that you would like it to quiet down. Two things can happen. One – it works! And you find your thoughts quieting down. Or, two – it opens up a meaningful dialogue between you and your brain. Perhaps it has been trying to tell you something. We all have free will and choice. Choose to believe that you have a say in what you think, when you think, and where you think.
Many of us don’t need to learn about new ways to alleviate our stress. Instead, we need to start thinking about the root causes of our stress, and problem solving from there.
Working from the foundation to uncover our limiting ideologies about stress is the only true way to free ourselves of stress, once and for all.
This content was pulled from Eden’s email newsletter. If you are interested in more of Eden’s thoughts on the intersection of mindfulness and work, visit withedenharmony.substack.com to subscribe.
Eden Harmony got her start teaching meditation while working in a highly demanding and stressful corporate job. Since then, she has taught thousands of people around the world how to meditate to work better.
Those who have experienced meditation the way she teaches it praise her ability to break down dogmatic, ancient meditative principles into simple, focused mindfulness tools ready to be implemented during a stressful workday.
She draws upon her experience studying Cognitive Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and under teachers in China and India.