Why not connect to your inner stressbuster?
Let’s start with a question.
What creates stress in your daily life?
You’re probably thinking that it’s anything from the commute to work, the project you’re working on or the argument you had with your partner the night before.
But just take a minute to think about it.
Stress isn’t tangible. You can’t carry it around in your bag or buy it on amazon. In short, it has no real substance.
Techniques, strategies, and processes to “manage” stress only tend to give you more things to think about.
And if you’re stressed, I think you probably have enough on your mind already.
Stress is just our perception of something in the moment and our perceptions change regularly.
That’s why we’re not necessarily stressed about the same things all the time. And what you might find stressful, such as traffic jams, public speaking, learning a foreign language or going on a rollercoaster, someone else will not find stressful or to a much lesser extent.
So it’s not the thing itself that creates stress. Stress is simply your thought about something.
Stress comes from thinking about all the things we have to do, not actually from those things themselves. This happens when we’re lost in our head, overanalyzing and ruminating, thinking about our thinking.
We often say: “I feel stressed, I’ve got a lot on my mind”. And it’s true. We’re caught up in our thoughts.
Two types of thinking
In their book “Slowing down to the Speed of Life”, R. Carlson & J. Bailey describe the two modes of thinking that form part of our human design: analytical and free-flow.
Analytical thinking is the thinking we tend to do most of the day. To say that we overuse this mode is an understatement.
Just think about how much time you spend up in your head each day, busy busying, thinking things over, again and again.
Don’t get me wrong, this mode can be useful for when we need to retrieve information that we already have in our possession or memory. It’s perfect for when we need to calculate, analyze or plan using “known” data such as for a budget.
But when we need innovative ideas, creative solutions, and fresh insights, which are key in our constantly changing world of today, “analytical” thinking keeps us stuck and stressed.
You may have heard the saying that you can’t solve a problem with the thinking that got you there. Well, it’s true.
We need to access our “free-flow” thinking for this and we’re not using it half as much as we should be.
How to access your free-flow thinking
Slow down. Realize that you’re up in your head. Come back down.
Yes, it’s that simple.
Whenever you’re feeling stressed, know that you’re clutching at the straws of your thinking. This awareness will bring you automatically out of your head and back to the present moment. Into free-flow. You’ve regained your default mode of natural wellbeing and clarity.
And if you just stay there and don’t get in your own way, you’ll be fine!
It’s the mode you’re in when you’re “in the zone”, just performing well without thinking about it.
That calm “being” mode that dissolves stress as we’re not thinking about everything we have to do. We’re just doing one thing and then the next, completely absorbed in each activity.
Responding not reacting, trusting not judging. Bringing ease not dis-ease.
What to do the next time you feel stressed
- Use the uncomfortable feeling of stress and anxiety as an alarm bell to wake you up from the personal reality-bubble that you’re in, i.e. your subjective thinking.
- You’ll then naturally fall back into your free-flow mode and access your inner wisdom, intuition, and innate common sense.
- You’ll be able to see the bigger picture instead of getting lost in the details.
- You’ll be able to clearly see what you need to do at that moment instead of hearing the “dramatic” narrative of your thinking.
- And if the answer doesn’t come, put it on the back burner and leave it to simmer. (Then do the next logical thing).
The next time you’re out for a walk or in the shower or playing with your kids, an answer will probably pop into your mind. That’s how it works.
Photo courtesy of: Fuu J on Unsplash