Saturday, August 8, 2009

DeStress Your Life - Part 1

I am blessed to have learned how to destress my life many years ago. And while I was sitting around today, being calm and relaxed, (smile), I thought I would share with you some of the techniques and practices that typically work for me. I'll share one a day until I run out of suggestions, or get stressed by the pressure of doing so.

None of these practices are original to me. They are just ideas I picked up along the way, and I guess collectively, they help me to live smoothly in these often chaotic times.

The most important one, almost a sure fire guarantee to reduce any and all stress, worry, tension, and angst.......drum the Serenity Prayer.

Anytime I get even the smallest nagging feeling, either in my gut or my monkey-brain, I first pause to get in touch with the feeling, in other words, to identify it, and then I pass it through the Serenity Prayer, or as I call it, my Stress Test.

The prayer, as you recall is:

Grant me the serenity
a. to accept the things I cannot change,
b. the courage to change the things I can,
c. the wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer, or test for nagging tension and stressful thoughts usually nips the angst in the bud.

For example, I had some financial charges for my physical therapy that, in my opinion, were not fair.

First question: can I do anything about them?
Answer: Yes, investigate and confirm the situation with the facts.
Response: The charges will be reduced, but a balance (which is still unfair) remains.
Next question: Can I do anything about this?
Answer: No.
Response: Accept it as I thing I cannot change; now dismiss it from my thoughts, and turn my focus on things I can do to make a difference. In other words -- "forgettaboutit!" and go live life to its fullest.

Another example -- everyone is fussing about the health care situation, and again, for me as an independent worker, not belonging to a group for insurance, it is a problem. I hear folks arguing and really getting their dander up in these discussions among themselves. It is hard for me to understand how they can get themselves all worked up just to hear themselves talk.

First question: Can I do anything about the health care system?
Answer: Well, maybe contact my legislators.
Okay, can I do anything else?
Answer: Nope
Response: So, after contacting folks who can do something about it, I need to forgettaboutit and go forth and live a full and glorious life.

Time spent fretting and in angst is time wasted. It is time that is stolen from the art of living. I view time as one of the most precious commodities and to waste it unnecessarily fretting is tantamount to tossing part of my lifetime away.

What if I scheduled a beach party and it rains.
Oh well -- taint nothing I can do about the weather. We either dance in the rain, or find shelter together. Life happens.

I suppose the key to this prayer or stress-test is whether we have the wisdom to tell the difference.

I find that the wisdom comes easily with the question: is there something I can do to change the situation?

My son is financially broke as are many of us. And he worries and frets about this constantly. My advice to him is that once you have tried everything you can think of to earn or save money, then stop letting it eat you up. Find things that you enjoy that are free. Like breathing, or walking, or reading, or whatever. Mostly I worry about money once a month when I try to make ends meet. Either they will or they won't and once that verdict is in, then I go on to savor the moments in life that are not dependent on money.

When I was a practicing attorney, my staff would often ask after something nasty would happen, "Doesn't that make you mad?" And I would say, "If I thought that getting angry, and slamming around my office in a tiff would change things for the better, even just a little, I might get my knickers in a knot; but I think it would only make things worse, so I'll just breathe......and then go on about my business."

Serenity is priceless. And the wisdom to know when we can make a difference is the ticket to knowing how to lead a calm but meaningful life. If and when I can make a difference, I am on it like a duck on a June bug; but if all I can do is make myself and others nuts by fussing and complaining, then I am destroying valuable moments of life. Even the words of this prayer are calming:

Serenity, Acceptance, Courage, Wisdom.

Try this stress test with anything that is bothering you and hopefully, you will either see how you can fix or change the stressor, or you will realize that you are wasting time and energy and need to forgettaboutit.

Breathe and enjoy....
in wisdom and in grace
living every moment to its absolute fullest.

1 comment:

Jan said...

Beautiful post, Ann...I feel calmer already ;-) Square breathing is a physical way of calming the emotions: breathe in for a count of four, hold for a count of four, breathe out for four and hold (empty lungs) for four. Three cycles of that and everything feels better. A powerful combo would be to think the serenity prayer while square breathing :~O