Posts Tagged ‘stressmanagement’

THE FOUR SURPRISING CAUSES OF STRESS

How many of you would like to live a stress-free life? I’m guessing it would be quite a few. Most people I know view stress as a negative experience. Yet like any emotion, it doesn’t have to prove detrimental to our health or overall well-being.

Stress is actually less complicated than one may believe. Like anger, it is only a symptom of a deeper issue. And like anger, there can be thousands of triggers but only a handful of root causes. Stress is defined as “a state of being characterized by feelings of physical, emotional, or mental tension”. The true causes of stress lie not in what is occurring around us but rather by what is taking place within us. All emotions, of which stress is one, originate internally. Consider the following internal origins of stress:

Fear: Feelings of worry, anxiety, concern, and apprehension all contribute to an individual feeling stressed out. We worry about finding a good job, moving to another city, losing our spouse or being alone. Each time we anticipate a negative circumstance we generate feelings of uncertainty. And fear of the unknown is one of life’s greatest causes of distress. Do you struggle with the What If Syndrome? What if I get lost? What if my husband gets cancer? What if the plane crashes and I die? What if my child doesn’t get into the college of his choice? Or what if he does and I can’t afford the tuition? We project the worst possible outcome and proceed to worry over things that may never manifest.

Fear is a lack of trust in a situation, another person, ourselves or God. In a situation, we may feel unsafe, such as sky diving for the first time. This is a dangerous sport. I could be seriously injured. Or we may fear others – a person is perceived as untrustworthy, a threat to our security and well-being. A jealous co worker has the potential to get me fired. There is also a lack of trust in ourselves – we lack confidence in our abilities to handle whatever situations life presents to us. I could never survive the loss of a child. And finally and most importantly, fear is a lack of trust in God. We question our understanding of Him: if He really is a loving God, why do bad things keep happening to me? I pray for healing every day and still I suffer with chronic back pain.

Solution: The way to overcome fear is two-fold. On a practical level: by building our self-confidence, in part, by reminding ourselves of everything we have faced, survived, and overcome thus far in life. On a spiritual level: by exercising our faith in God, knowing that He never promised that life would be easy nor fair, only that He would never abandon us, that whatever we truly needed (not just wanted) would be provided for us, and that if we followed His directive we would reap abundant blessings. Just look around you – everything you need is all ready here.

Frustration: Feelings of anxiety derived from the need to control a situation or individual lead to anxiety. When people don’t behave in a manner I deem appropriate, when they won’t comply with my wishes or demands, or when a situation does not proceed as I anticipated, I feel helpless and powerless. Being out of control causes apprehension within me as I realize something or someone else is determining the outcome of this situation and/or possibly my life. I do not trust anyone enough to give them power and authority over me nor do I want to leave my fate up to chance. I do not believe that either has my best interest at heart.

Solution: When I realize that control is an illusion (I have zero control over situations and/or others) and recognize that whatever enters my life is ultimately there for my higher good*, then I do not need to have the final say in how life reveals itself to me. I can relax and be more at ease, knowing that I have full dominion over how I maximize every experience I participate in. I choose how I think, feel, react to, and utilize each and every occurrence. I can transform any perceived negative situation into a positive simply by my internal choices and how I express them.

Perception: How we choose to see things, events or people defines our reality. Our perception is not determined by the actuality of our experience but rather by the thoughts we form about them. Here’s an example: the reality: I’ve told my children dozens of times to keep their rooms clean yet every time I check on them they are a disaster by my standards. My perception: They do this just to drive me crazy! The truth is that most children are not concerned with the order of their rooms. Messy is their normal. A simple shift in my perception can instantly alleviate my stress. They’re just being kids. They’ll eventually learn, I hope. And if not, it’s really not that important.”Life isn’t about truth and reality; life is all about perception.” – Janet Pfeiffer

Solution: Perception can be changed at any given moment. One only needs to re examine their thought process. Am I being fair and reasonable in the way I see myself, others or the world in general? Am I being judgmental and/or arrogant? I can remove labels from myself and others or modify them to be more understanding and realistic. In this way, when I adjust my perception (how I choose to view others and situations) I can reduce or eliminate stress and replace it with a sense of calm.

Expectations: We all have expectations that we place on others and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, many times what we are seeking from others is unfair or unrealistic. When our demands are not met, for whatever reason, we become stressed, angry, and disappointed. But is it realistic to expect that my husband have the same interest in music as I do? Is it reasonable to think I can work a full-time job, raise my children, and care for my elderly parents on my own, and do it all really well? Do I have a right to dictate to others what they should think, feel, believe, or how they should act? Is it reasonable to expect that what I am seeking in an given situation would manifest in the time frame I’ve allotted, in the exact manner in which I desire it considering all relevant factors?

We demand a lot of ourselves and live in an age where multitasking and workaholism (that’s not a real word but you know what I mean) are considered virtues. When we fall short of those ideals we label ourselves as failures. Likewise, we place an excessive amount of pressure on others to conform to what we believe is right and/or acceptable. We impose our beliefs, lifestyles, interests, work ethics, etc. on our families, friends, coworkers, and others and when they do not comply we become frustrated and angry.

Solution: While it is useful and reasonable to have some expectations in life, we must be careful to make certain that they are in alignment with reality and are fair and just to all concerned. If they are extraordinarily high or unreasonable, we are inviting stress into our minds and bodies. Eliminate any demands that are unnecessary, readjust those that are unfair, and take a kinder more gentle approach to life. Remind yourself that life and those in it are not meant to conform to your dictates. Embrace what works for you and gently relinquish that which doesn’t. Allow life and others to simply be.

In conclusion: If you want less stress in your life, it is not always necessary to change your circumstances (although that may be a viable option). Sometimes, a simple shift in perception (how we view things) or an adjustment in our expectations (being more realistic and fair-minded) can make all the difference in the world. Remember, if you can’t change the world, change how you view it and how you interact with it. You will be much more relaxed and peaceful, able to more fully enjoy life in all its wonder and glory. And isn’t that a worthy goal?

People and events that contradict my ideals will always be a part of my life. By addressing the underlying causes of stress and living a faith-based life coupled with the wisdom to fully embrace every situation I experience, I can approach each day with greater peace and composure thereby significantly reducing the amount of stress that enters my life. And a peace-filled lifestyle supports a joy-filled existence.

*Q: “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
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7 TIBETAN STEPS TO LASTING JOY

There is something about the country of Tibet that has always intrigued me. Perhaps it’s the beautiful landscape along crystal blue waters or the unique architecture of its oriental style buildings. Or more importantly a group of monks that call this country their home are known for their serene way of life. They seem unaffected by the modern day stresses and anger that the rest of us are subjected to while residing primarily in a state of bliss. What is the secret to their joy? Researchers conducted a study of Tibetan monks and found that there are seven rituals that increase their levels of happiness an astonishing 700-800% over the average person.

1. Being Mindful: For many of us, the stressors of our daily lives are a lot to deal with. We’re often multitasking or thinking ahead as to what we need to take care of next. We are so consumed with the vast amount of tasks we are responsible to complete in the course of the day, as well as what faces us tomorrow and in our future, that we fail to be fully present to what is happening in the moment. The old cliché, “stop and smell the roses” is a great reminder of being mindful. Be aware of all that is around you and you will discover undiscovered beauty that can greatly enhance your day. Take time to gaze out of a window at the earth and sky around you; take notice of the color, texture, and aroma of the food you are eating; sit quietly as you watch with deep intent your child coloring a picture.

2. Oneness: Tibetan monks practice the belief of “oneness”, that we are all interconnected. The same energy that is me is also that which all others are comprised of. An activity called “compassion meditation” increases happiness and empathy by as much as 800%. Remembering that we all share the same basic needs, feelings, desires, and fears enables us to be less judgmental and more empathetic to the feelings and suffering of others. The desire to see others safe and happy and prosperous magnifies our own feelings of joy as well.

3. Laughing Out Loud: For 5,000 years, Tibetan monks have begun each day by laughing out loud upon awakening. It enables them to remain calmer and more focused. It is well documented that laughter has medicinal benefits by reducing the production of stress hormones while triggering the release of happiness-boosting endorphins. It also reduces tension in the blood vessels of the head, thus improving the flow of oxygen rich blood to the brain, keeping them alert. Faking a laugh can have the same benefits as laughter caused by a funny incident of joke. Recommended daily dose? A lot.

4. Sitting Up Straight: Good posture has multiple benefits. Consider this: all of the body’s nerves flow through the spine. Any interference can lead to reduction in brain function. Simply pulling one’s shoulders back can increase the electrical current to the brain. And the more efficiently the brain functions the less stress it endures. Less stress = greater happiness.

5. Gazing At One Object: I’ve always had the ability to “out-stare” anyone. I could affix my eyes on an object and stare at it without blinking for a long time. Tibetan monks meditate on a sole object. Studies show that doing so activates the frontal lobes of the brain, areas associated with superior concentration and faster reaction time. The greater our ability to concentrate the less effort we put forth in doing so. This enables us to feel more relaxed. And the beauty of this exercise is that it can be done anywhere for a short period of time to reap the benefits. Standing in line at the supermarket provides a perfect time for a mini one-point meditation.

6. Listening to Bells: The monks of Tibet begin and end prayer with the sound of small brass discs attached by string, called tingsha. Each disc is handmade so no two are identical. This causes each to vibrate at a slightly different frequency when struck. Studies show that when your brain hears two different frequencies it registers a frequency equal to the difference between the two. This sound refreshes both the body and the mind and is associated with both relaxation and heightened creativity.

7. Humming: Many cultures utilize chants or humming as a way to relax and focus. I recall listening to the Gregorian Chants sung by Catholic monks when I was a child. I always found them to be very soothing and comforting. But even the act of simply humming can increase your brainpower, boost endorphins, and lower your blood pressure and heart rate. Humming vibrates the hypothalamus and pituitary glands deep inside the brain, releasing feel-good hormones and disengaging the fight-or-flight response when one is stressed or fearful. Using a vowel sound such as ‘ah’ or ‘oh’ and lowering the sound to a place where you can feel the vibration throughout your entire body. I’ve used the sound “OM”. The mantra “OM” is the name of God, the very vibration of the Supreme Being. OM is the reflection of the absolute reality, without beginning or the end and embracing all that exists. It’s an excellent tool to reduce stress and induce joy and tranquility.

Monks, whether Tibetan, Catholic or any other faith, are globally recognized as authorities in tranquility and joy. Choose one or more of the above mentioned practices and incorporate it into your daily routine. Then take notice of how much happier and more relaxed you are. Here’s to your bliss.
Order The Secret Side of Anger, Second Edition or The Great Truth @ http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html

Listen to past shows on iHeart Radio @ http://ow.ly/OADTf
Listen to my newest iHeart Radio show, BETWEEN YOU AND GOD, @ http://ow.ly/OADJK
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Google+