Releasing Stress on National Stress Day

Today’s Affirmation:

“I become aware of the little things that are stressing me out and develop strategies to deal with them effectively.”

Overworked business man.Today is National Stress Way – a perfect opportunity to discuss ways to destress.

We often attribute the stress in our daily lives to what is happening on the outside. “My schedule is so busy” or “Work is a bear right now” are common reasons we give others and ourselves to explain the stress we feel.

No doubt, these things contribute to our stress. However, some of the extra “weight” we carry around is mental. It’s all the little unresolved problems and distractions flittering, as they do, at the edges of our awareness that create stress in our lives disproportionate to their actual importance.

Collectively, these little stressors create murky, undefined sense of dis-ease that can permeate our days and lessen our enjoyment of life.

Awareness

How do we deal with these minor hindrances? Well, the first we have to do is to become aware of them. Can we identify them and name them? It’s almost impossible to address them unless we know what they are.

One effective way for surfacing these issues is to spend a little quiet time alone at some point in the day. Just allow your thoughts to flow freely without evaluation and take note of the concerns, worries, or issues that arise.

These small issues are like children clamoring for attention. They will usually make themselves known when you listen.

Action

Once you identify an issue, you can:

  • Estimate its importance.
  • Take steps to resolve it.
  • Recognize its relative insignificance and let it go.

Perspective 

These pesky stressors are the puff fish in our lives. You may be familiar with this kind of fish. It has the ability to blow itself up to appear much larger than its actual size to intimidate would-be predators.

Especially when we have an emotional investment, these little issues can cast a longer shadow in our lives than is warranted by their actual importance.

The key to breaking their hold is perspective. Here are three strategies for getting that perspective.

  1. Deja-Vu – we have probably faced situations similar to the one we are stressing about now and it probably came out OK. Most of the things we stress ourselves about never happen or are not as bad as we imagined them to be. Think of two or three examples of times when similar things worked out fine and your worrying did not alter the outcome. Then let go.
  2. The 30-Day Test – ask yourself whether this issue will still have the significance you are giving it now in 30 days? In six months? A year? If not, it probably is not really as important as it seems right now. Do what you can about it and then let it go.
  3. The Quasar Comparison – this is the “big scheme of things” approach to releasing the issue. Our problems, as big as they seem to us sometimes, are mostly insignificant in the big picture. Quasars are very powerful and distant objects at the edge of the visible universe. They are billions of light years away and a reminder of our universe’s sheer scale. A picture of a quasar can easily be found online. I keep one nearby to remind me how small my problems really are compared to the vastness of space and time. When realize this may not be as life and death as we are making it out to be we can let it go.

In closing, I am certainly not advocating avoidance of real problems in our lives. What I am saying is that our quality of life can improve when we find ways to jettison those annoying little stressors that hold us back.

I’d love to hear from some of you about strategies you use to reduce stress.  Leave a comment.

Have a peaceful and prosperous day!

Ray

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An Affirmation for 2008 – The Affirmation Spot for December 26, 2007

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As Christmas passes, our focus begins to move towards the new year. 2008 holds potential for anything at this point. There is not yet one fingerprint on its possibility.

Today’s affirmation is:

“Who I am is not for sale at any price! I am brilliant and beautiful and a best friend to everyone who knows me. I am peaceful and happy and more successful than ever before. I am relaxed and confident and trading in my old fears on new hopes.

2008 is going to be a wonderful year for me; a year of breakthrough, options, and opportunities for new paths to follow. I am excited and ready for the challenges and the triumphs that lie ahead.

No, my self-worth, my happiness, my freedom, my unbounded optimism about what is ahead is not for sale at any price!”

earthyear.gif

As another journey around our home star begins in the next few days, begin visualizing 2008 as your big year.

Read this affirmation to yourself a few times today. Begin envisioning the new year as you’d like to see it right now. As the door of 2007 begins to swing shut, the window that is 2008 is opening.

Every possibility, every option, every hope, dream, and goal are back on the table.

Be peaceful Be prosperous

Ray
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Things I Learned from My Dog Part 1 – The Affirmation Spot for Friday October 19, 2007

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Today is the first in what will become a recurring series on things I learn from my dog. We humans may have the opposable thumb and a larger brain, but animals can actually serve as very good teachers for us.

 

I’ve always been a dog lover and I especially love Labrador Retrievers. They just seem to be the ultimate optimists in the dog world. They are fun, playful, and affectionate.

 

Take our three-year old black Lab – Mia. The whole world – me included – can be against me on a bad day, but Mia is still for me. When we need to feel better about ourselves or other people it always helps to take a dog’s point of view. Dogs teach by example and then there are those things we can learn by observation.

 

One humorous thing about Mia, though, is that she is a ferocious Squirrel Warrior. In fact, I’d have to say she is a little neurotic about squirrels. We are very fortunate to have a house with a significant number of windows. Mia – when she’s not sleeping – can usually be found patrolling the windows…waiting…watching for movement in the yard or a gray bushy tail in the grass that might indicate the presence of a squirrel.

 

She takes this very seriously and she can drive herself crazy over the squirrels. Some of the older, wily squirrels will do things to really annoy her like sit on the deck rail or the patio (in full view) and munch on a nut. While inside Mia is having a conniption fit, the squirrel is calmly watching.

 

They also seem to have a very good idea of exactly how far her chain will reach in the back yard and they love to sit just beyond it. Sometimes when we let her out she will sit up by the door for half an hour or more waiting for one to wander too close and then she is OFF. Chasing the squirrel for all she’s worth and almost catching it, but not quite. She is the Wylie Coyote of the neighborhood. Another brilliant trap foiled.

 

Much of Mia’s day is consumed with the pursuit of squirrels she’s probably never going to catch. She just cannot relax as long as there are squirrels around. They torment her and she lets them.

 

You know, we all have our squirrels. We all have things that drive us up the wall and refuse to let us have peace. It might be a habit of your spouse, e-mail spam, traffic jams, the project at work, or, well, you fill in the blank.

 

Even the language we use to describe our “squirrels” is backwards. We often say, “That traffic really annoyed me.” Did it? The traffic was just sitting on deck rail munching a nut. You were the one in the car losing your sense of peace.

 

There was a story I remember reading once about a young man who had decided to take up meditation. He was working with a teacher. The man lived in a big city apartment. He was explaining to his teacher that he could not meditate in the apartment because there was a bus stop right outside his apartment.

 

“The constant noise,” he complained, “will not allow me to meditate. It’s too distracting.”

 

The teacher leaned forward and smiled, “Ah yes, but is the bus coming into the apartment and bothering you or are you going outside and bothering the bus?”

 

The teacher’s point, of course, is that it is not the things that bother us; it is our thoughts about them that create the stress.

 

Today, make a list of your “squirrels” – those things that really annoy you. Think about how each can be addressed. Is there something you can do to change the situation and make it better? Or, is this something you just have to accept and get better at dealing with it?

 

Don’t try to take them all on at once. Work on one or two at a time. Over the course of the next few weeks or months –depending on how many you have – you will have more peace by setting them down.

 

When you encounter something really annoying you remember Mia. If it’s a real problem that needs to be dealt with, deal with it. If not (and so many things we get worked up about are not), visualize yourself as Mia going crazy and the source of your annoyance as the squirrel calmly munching the nut and enjoying the show.

 

I promise a smile will come to your face and you will recognize how silly it is and let it go.

 

Have a peaceful and prosperous Friday!

Ray

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