I regularly ask my clients how they manage their stress.
You see, by the time they come to see me, their body has been telling them for a while that something is wrong. They don’t always know what it is – other than those sore shoulders or an injury that is aggravating them again, or that they seem to be exhausted all the time.
How do we manage our stress?
The answers I get vary. Most often though, it seems to really stump people. I mean they take down time, like watching TV or reading a good book. Or they love to exercise and that seems to help with stress…. Or… well… they just aren’t sure.
Stress management is a multifaceted thing.
• We need tools to manage daily stresses on a daily basis
• We need to make smart choices for ourselves to avoid unnecessary stress
• We need tools to manage the stress we can’t predict or avoid
But many of us don’t think of it that way. We think if we have a fairly “calm” demeanor, that we aren’t stressed. That if we take an attitude of not letting things bother us, we aren’t letting stress get to us.
But stress works in subtle ways.
We sometimes don’t even KNOW we are stressed!
It sneaks up on us. Like that time you accidentally snapped at your child and brought him to tears. Or when you seem to have a hard time getting to sleep even though you’re exhausted. Or how about those pesky shoulders? That muscle tension that only a massage seems to relieve?
What’s really happening here is a lack of awareness as to how we are really feeling.
Just like how certain eating patterns can leave us unsure of what it actually feels like to be hungry – or full – certain lifestyle patterns (or lack of them) can leave us unsure of how well we are – or aren’t – managing our stress.
Then my next question is, “Have you tried meditation?”
Now I’m not saying “meditate and thou shalt stress no more”.
I’m saying meditation is one very strong tool towards MANAGING stress through fostering awareness.
It’s through meditation, through tapping into an awareness of ourselves and our inner state that we begin to see more clearly throughout our days.
• Daily meditation is a strong tool, returning us repeatedly to our center and aiding in managing daily stress.
• It is the tool that helps us see clearly how we can organize our life to include only the stress that feels WORTH it to us.
• With a regular and consistent meditation practice, we also learn how to more gracefully navigate the waters of stress that we can’t predict or control.
There are two types of clients that I see. Those that have come to me because they are feeling the symptoms of stress, but they didn’t know how to avoid getting there, or what they are going to do about it when they are off of the massage table.
Then there are those that come to me and say things like, “I’ve been working through some stuff and I see that that stuff is creating some stress symptoms in my body, like exhaustion and pain, so as part of my stress management, I’ve decided to come see you once a week until I can get some wheels of change in motion.”
Ok they may not say it exactly like that, but upon reading between the lines it’s exactly what they are presenting to me.
The first client is living in a place where their awareness isn’t fully awakened. They know something is up, but they don’t yet have the tools to come to understand it or what to do about it.
The second client most likely has some form of meditation practice. They are taking the time to sit, feel, reflect, and then take right actions towards the change they see that they need.
Meditation can take many, many forms. Check out this awesome article:
How do you meditate? What kind of styles or techniques have resonated with you?
What have been the benefits of your meditation practice?
If you have yet to try meditation, what holds you back? What do you need to feel ready to give it a try?
Please share your comments and ask your questions!
I’ll be releasing a mini meditation series within the next few months to help beginners step into a regular meditation practice. Sign up for e-mail updates to be the first to hear of its release and how you can join the party!