Root Cause of Stress
Stress is due to uncertainty (about future or about way to proceed), which comes from lack of clarity on current situation.
It can be financial or work related, it can be about big business decisions, it may be due to poor communication with people or a misunderstanding with a partner, or emotional such us lack of relationship and/or love.
Stress manifests in various ways – some clear and obvious, others rather subtle. For example I wasn’t enjoying social interactions (friends or events) or when learning new things (cooking class). I was also drinking 3+ cups of coffee per day, overeating, overall not being sharp and full of energy, and feeling certain state of helplessness.
Stress can also be much more serious and manifest itself as a very heavy depression or even suicidal thoughts, mainly due to powerlessness. The struggle with money and people can be really draining.
When something like that happened to me, I eventually realized that there is no magic key and I needed to keep working on myself: learn my lessons and create something of value, ie. pay even greater price in terms of time, energy, and money.
All those realizations took me away from the bad thoughts, which I had to acknowledge and accept to move pass them. This is a very important step, step #1 – I can’t stress it enough.
If you don’t feel happy by default, at all times, despite how bad do you think it is (being broke or sick), you’ve got some work to do.
After you’ve spent some time on personal development and seemingly nothing has changed in your life, yet you actually feel happy, grateful for life opportunity and admire the beauty of the world, you are on the right track.
Consider the size of the mountain in front of you. Sometimes it appears tiny, other times it is huge. The size of the mountain is always the same. It is only your perception that changes.
At this point you have a solid action plan (creating and delivering value), and you trust and believe that anything that happens, happens for a good reason (soon or eventually).
See, the way to live life without stress is to feel certain about the future. You have to do your best to design and create your own future (ie. be proactive vs. reactive). When you provide genuinely good value, things will align to support you. I know this for sure.
Stress Relief in 7 steps
The first step to overcoming stress is to actually realize and acknowledge that you are stressed. Then make a strong decision to change that. You can say a positive affirmation to yourself, such as:
I know I am going through challenging times right now, but I am strong, intelligent and persistent; I can and I will get through this. I will make my life amazing and beautiful.
Step two is to take a day to do something nice for yourself, have few moments of bliss, and relax as much as possible. Try to make the “something” healthy and empowering. Reflect on your body for a moment, feel what hurts and how, what is the emotion, what is missing. Then give it to yourself to your best ability. You may want to write all this down.
The idea here is to get your mind ready for thinking clearly and constructively, so you can act with enthusiasm, creativity and positive action.
Step number three is take your time and get absolutely clear on what you REALLY WANT. Be careful not to slip into the area of what you don’t want – focus on what you DO WANT. What is the best-case scenario, the ideal situation – think like anything is possible!
Step four is to eliminate uncertainty right now. Research whether someone has already dealt with similar dilemma and documented it on the web or in a book. Study all related options, solutions, biographies, success stories and if possible seek an expert who can guide you through it.
Sometimes you can remove uncertainty by making a simple phone call or having an open and honest conversation with someone. Quick tip: talk in the “I-language”: “I feel hurt when…”, “I feel neglected when…”, or “I feel misunderstood when…”
Optional step five is to think about your worst-case scenario, make a contingency plan, really prepare for it the best you can (eg. have backup and required tools), and be absolutely mentally ready to execute that plan. Then realize that your worst-case didn’t happen yet, so you can let go of worrying about it; however, now you are fully prepared to handle it.
When I was ready to file for bankruptcy, aside from doing thorough research and organizing all my paperwork I mentally let go of all my current possessions and various benefits.
Step number six is to contrive a long-term solution, plan, or purpose (step 2 & 3) so that this uncertainty doesn’t happen again. It is very important to be ready to follow it, even if it means sacrificing certain things (social meet-ups, unhealthy foods, unhealthy habits, etc).
Also prepare your work environment for action (declutter and dust-off surfaces, organize your desk, get healthy food and snacks, put on your favourite/relaxing/action music).
Start! Follow the plan not matter what. Just do it, even for 2 minutes. This tiny progress will magically shift your mind into a productive state and you will be on your way. JUST START! Whenever you slip back into stress, repeat all steps as necessary.
One of my friends made this important observation:
After the amount of stress I’ve been through the past few weeks, I still carry the lesson of letting go. You can’t take any of the stress with you. While you’re IN IT, it seems like you’ll never make it, but then when it’s OVER, it’s nothing but a story to tell…
* just make sure to make the story inspirational, or forever hold your peace.
Reduce Stress and Relax
To reduce stress choose relaxing techniques below, or design your own feel-good day; but be careful, too much of a good thing can backfire – lean to the side of relaxation.
- Recharge with a Shiatsu massage, Hatha yoga, long shower, or a walk in the park
- Intend to feel good, breathe deep, straighten your posture, feel the joy
- Talk to someone supportive and positive, have a light chat about fun things
- Have a quality dinner (eg. salmon), rich vegetable salad and some green tea
- Go to IKEA, get some candles, walk around the demo rooms, pretend you’re in your own gigantic kitchen cooking a nutritious dinner for your family
- Take a drive through a nice neighbourhood, feel like you live here, feel good
- Have some fresh fruit (eg. strawberries, kiwi, apple) or a healthy smoothie
- Groom yourself, wash your hair, put on your best clothes, go out, smile
- Watch a funny TV sitcom or your favourite movie; note: avoid drama and news
- At home light the candles, light an incense, put on some nice music, just relax
After all this you will hopefully feel nice and light, yet crystal clear. Go to sleep early, have a good quality sleep, get up right away when you wake up, have a healthy breakfast, and… get going with the plan. The time to make it happen is now! It’s now or never!