Our Reaction Can Decrease Stress

Our reaction can decrease stress. When the pressure of world events feels so heavy, there is only one lasting solution. We choose to adjust our response.

A Metaphor of Arrows

During my morning meditation with Anushka Fernandopulle with the app from Ten-Percent Happier, she asked me to imagine a troublesome event as an arrow piercing my body. It hurts. But when we take on even more stress in our reaction, the one indicator becomes many, piercing our flesh until we completely shut down.

How to Remove the Arrows

I will lead you through a meditation that gives you the tools to reduce stress in your body. When your body rests, the mind follows.

Furthermore, I invite you to record the next section as you read it aloud, going through the motions to give yourself time to breathe and relax for a ten-minute meditation. Then you can play the recording whenever you want a break from stress.

Take a Break from Stress

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. For example, your feet are flat on the floor if you sit in a chair. Relax the belly.

If laying down, allow your feet to fall to the sides naturally. Relax your arms either alongside your body or resting on your belly. Close your eyes if you’d like, or have a soft gaze on the floor or your chest.

Softly inhale through your nose, gently releasing the exhale. Repeat this a few times while noticing any tension in the face or shoulders.

Now take a slightly deeper breath and release the tension in your face on the out-breath. Take another deep breath and release the tension in your shoulders on the out-breath. Once more, breathe in deeply. Notice where you hold tension in your body and release it on the out-breath.

Allow your breath to return to a normal rhythm.

As you gently breathe in and out, imagine a tiny splinter in the tense area of your body loosening its grip. The tiny sliver eases out more with each out-breath until it falls out and disappears.

Continue gently breathing in and out until you feel relaxed throughout your body.

Begin to move your fingers and toes, returning to a more awake state. Please open your eyes, perhaps fluttering them a little at first. Now, look at the objects in the room or the space around you.

Take a nice cleansing breath and begin a less stressful day or evening.

A Few Final Thoughts

It is easy to revert to an overstressed condition when we engage in spending time on our cell phones, watching the news, reading the newspaper, or rehashing world events with friends and family.

Our reaction can decrease stress. We can choose to act differently. For some, it is easiest to go cold turkey by silencing the cell phone or removing it to another room.

You can mute the news on the radio or television, change the channel, or remove yourself to a different room. Perhaps you can enjoy a book or go outside.

Be gentle with yourself. Take these suggestions as just that, suggestions. And always make changes one step at a time.

Finding Joy When Life is Stressful

Finding joy when life is stressful seems impossible. Yet these are the times joy is most needed.

How I Found My Joy

Inspiration for joy came to me in many different ways. All these ideas have one thing in common – taking action.

  • Connection with positive friends
  • Looking for beauty in nature
  • Noticing synchronicity in everyday occasions
  • Asking for help

Connection with Positive Friends

Although I’m a caregiver to my husband and elderly mother, I also choose to surround myself with positive friends. This is the primary way I find joy when life is stressful.

One example is a nearby cousin, Tom, whom I’d only seen at sad occasions during the last year. His brother and parents passed just before and during the pandemic.

Look for L. Anderson, my grandfather

Tom called me to ask a favor of helping him deliver his car to a mechanic shop located between our respective homes. He enjoys eating out and offered to take me to lunch in gratitude. Our conversations centered around sharing past adventures and our mutual interest in the family genealogy. We made a pact to discover the location of our great-grandfather’s home in the late 1800’s.  We spent a Saturday afternoon at the local county historical library, pouring over platte maps.

Looking for Beauty in Nature

During 2020’s restrictions, I discovered nature in my yard. It was wonderful to visit the many plants, some that I had installed specifically to attract butterflies and birds. In contrast, the declining health of my husband and mother pulled me farther out into the world of nature.

Although I walk every Saturday morning with a gardening friend in the gardens of Bok Tower, this week I twice answered the call of a wilder place. Last Sunday I went to a local state park and took my dog, Sugar. The pain in my arthritic knees reminded me that I have walking poles hidden under my husband’s hunting camo in the garage.

When I decided to head to Bok Tower’s wilder side, Pine Ridge Preserve, I dug out the poles, cleaned off the cobwebs and brought them with me. As I used the poles to steady my stance and distribute the force away from my knees, I thought, “Why have I ignored these tools hanging in the garage four years!”

Noticing Synchronicity

There have been so many instances of synchronicity, it’s hard to know which to share. Mostly, I’ve been drawn to reach out to like-minded people through my online groups.

One such person is Miggy Rodriguez, of Infinite FlowInfinite Flow. I’ve known her over a year, liked her Facebook comments both on our private groups and in our personal pages. Finally, I reached out and we had long telephone conversation. She asked me where I lived in Florida. Although she lives in North Carolina, her father lives right here, in the same small town I live in. And her sister literally lives off the same street as me. That’s extreme synchronicity.

You might wonder why that brings me joy. It’s rather simple really. For me, synchronicity is proof of a higher power guiding and helping me.. helping you.

Asking For Help

This has shown up in myriad ways. Not only have I asked friends for help navigating the complex medical world of my husband’s cancer, I’ve learned how to ask for help in small ways too.

Now is the time of oak leaf drop in Florida. I asked my landscaping person to help me by blowing the leaves on our circular drive into piles. When I checked on his regular lawn care tasks, I found him raking the leaves into piles. We worked together to get them into a garbage can.

When you ask for help, joy is doubled. Both people benefit in this giving and receiving exchange.

Final Thoughts

This coming week, consider finding joy when life is stressful. It’s a combination of a choice in your thoughts and taking positive action.