photo: mikebaird – flickr
post by Mitch W. Steel
What do you do?” he asked, wondering how I manage stress. I must have had a mouth full of food “meditate”, I told him. He nodded his head knowingly and said – “right, which ones?” I looked at him strangely. “What?” I said. He then said, “What kind of medications do you take?” I quickly chuckled. Then realizing the serious nature of his misunderstanding…
“No man, MEDITATE, not MEDICATE” I said.
One of the most common requests I get is from people asking for ways to better manage stress. These are stressful times – OILflation combined with the remnants of a housing bubble aren’t making it any easier for anyone!
The other day, I was having lunch with a very successful fortune 500 executive (mid acquisition). Frankly, this great man was stressed beyond belief as company politics had him a state of fear. He was concerned about some “higher-ups” and some moves they may make.
As previously mentioned, I fully recognize these are stressful times. Truthfully though, have there ever been any times that weren’t stressful? I mean, do you not think World War II was a stressful time? Or Vietnam, or ???. Look, seeking the answer in a bottle or pill can NOT be THE answer! It’s AN answer and it’s the wrong one. The answer, as always, is in responsibility and mindful self-control.
Our lunch conversation proceeded into a discussion where I reviewed a handful of the techniques shared below.
#1: MOVE IT
Go for a run or go for a walk, but just go! “Motion creates emotion” -Tony Robbins. Move to get out of your own head. A body at rest stays at rest. What you need is a different perspective simply exercising and creating some endorphins helps to creates a favorable mental state. Tell me the last time you saw a depressed runner?
My experience tells me that if you sit quietly for a minimum of just 3 minutes reflecting on all the good in your life you will have removed the stress immediately. If you are saying right now – “there is no good.” You need (as the old man used to say) your head screwed on tight! For starters, you are reading this so your eyes work, last time I checked, you were FREE to do as you pleased, (statistics tell me the majority of you are from the US) you’re using a computer that is tapped into the vast knowledge of the world. Chances are you can probably type and write, hear, see, smell, walk, etc. I’d imagine you have family and friends… etc. (remember, to have friends you need to be a friend). But I digress. The point is, to relieve stress meditating on all the good in your life – what you are thankful for is very helpful.
Here are just a couple processes. Just repeat quietly in your head ” I’m thankful for …” Or, “I’m grateful for…” or “God Bless…my eyesight, my hearing ….”Again, go through your personal list, sitting quietly with your eyes closed and your back straight. I do this on my knees, some people cross their legs – either way works. Some people like to lie down, however, some tend to fall asleep. Another terrific process is to mentally navigate your body. To go through in your mind and touch your toes, travel with the blood through our heart to your fingertips – up through you head, into your brain, etc. This helps you to recognize and be grateful for your body, your health. Finally, finish your three minutes with a minute of visualization of how great your day will be and how the events of the day will unfold in your favor. See all the things you need to get done today getting finished without hassle.
#3: NO NEWS IS TRULY GOOD NEWS
This should be easy! Do not watch any news for a week. I promise, this won’t kill you. Quite the contrary actually. The news today is designed for drama – the more fear they can instill in the viewers- the higher the ratings! It has become comical. Just last night, Larry King had this poor CEO of Chevron – blasting him for the “billions in profits.” The news is absolutely loving the oil price run up. If i see another “live action” shot of a person filling up his tank my TV is gone!
#4: WORST CASE
To manage stress – many times the best path is to actually follow the worst case scenario. This is always a good exercise. If you can’t shake the fear- embrace it, go with it. Just ask these questions; what would have to happen to have this fear realized? what other events would have to happen? What is the order it would have to happen in? What is the related timeframe? Often times, when a situation is put into that perspective – people realize some pretty unrealistic events would have to happen in a set sequence to realize their worst case and this helps to remove the stress. Also, it really helps to know that if you have the FREE things; health, integrity, family and friends – everything else is secondary and even a “worst case” scenario is manageable!
Zig Ziglar likes to say, FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. I’ve also heard it said that fear is paying interest on a loan you are not even sure you’re going to have. Both suggest the same thing – fear is simply the projection of a future condition which need NOT affect your present situation. Do you want to pay interest on a loan you don’t even have?
“Fear is the path to the dark side, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” Who wants to be led to suffering? Not me – thank you. Yes, as always, the simple is the profound.
How many things do you control? (We’ll leave this for the comments section and allow you all to answer later)
Stop trying to control the office politics, your boyfriend, the traffic, your friend, girl fiend, etc. Detach. Let them take the house (i know, easy for me to say) but, consider for a moment the freedom – that comes with that statement. what happens to the stress when you say, “take it”. This was shared with a close colleague of mine who was stressed beyond belief. He did lose his home about 5 months ago. today he’s happier than he’s been in a long time. The stress about losing the home – was far greater then the actual event. Ed side note: since this is likely effecting a lot of people. They were smart and came to the lender proactively – worked on a deal. However, they were unable to short sell. But, they were forthcoming and didn’t run or hide from the lenders. Ultimately they detached and were free from the stress.
#9: ONE SONG
(see picture above) Walk outside- down the street, to a park on the beach. watch the birds – stare at a tree or a flower – recognize the UNI-verse (one song) is in play. It is all working on its own timetable. The tree isn’t stressed it isn’t going to get water tomorrow. you shouldn’t be either.
take a step back. recognize all the other times you thought you were doomed. You remember, you were in such a mess you thought there was no way out – you’d never get a job that good, or meet another person or…. and, you made it out just fine. Perspective always helps in cases of stress by removing the tunnel vision.
Finally, as Keb Mo likes to say “hand it over, get on your knees and pray”. Combined with meditating makes for a powerful calming force. Remember, meditating is listening. Prayer is talking. Since you have two ears and one mouth you should meditate twice as much as you pray.
Be sure to share your tips and comments for others. (Note: no comments no mo’)
Enjoy a happy, stress free fourth. May you be independent of FEAR and responsible for Freedom in all her forms