Everyday life can feel overwhelming when you’re stressed out. Without a proper understanding of how to manage your thoughts and emotions, stress can be quite debilitating.
While it may not seem true in the heat of the moment, you are in control at all times, even if you feel like your back is up against the wall.
As is often the case, the world around us makes us forget who we are and we inevitably get swept up in tides of emotionalism brought on by our ego. This is when we begin to internalize all of the sensory input we receive.
Stress is extremely subjective. One person can sit quietly and mindfully through a two hour long traffic jam and their mood won’t be altered a bit. They are in control of themselves and know how to process sensory input correctly.
On the other hand, another person may grit their teeth in frustration and feel stressed out due to something as simple as waiting a full minute at a red light.
It is in this subjectivity that you will find your ability to control what’s happening.
Once you realize stress has no power over you, managing your life during “stressful” times becomes far easier.
Bring Your Awareness Back to Your Self
One of the main reasons why we become stressed out in the first place is because we give too much of our energy away to outside forces.
To be balanced and at peace, you need to focus on your Self above all else.
In other words, stop caring about what other people think of you. Stop investing your emotional satisfaction based off of what other people do. Stop hinging your happiness on happenstance.
The only determinant for your contentment and happiness should be you.
Of course, our egos are programmed to think otherwise. They want us emotionally invested in everything around us.
There is a huge misconception when it comes to masters and sages and how difficult it is to stress them out. The unaware might call them “detached from reality” or even “sociopathic.”
The reality is that the sage has not lost the capacity to feel stressed. It’s that they have simply stopped investing personal energy into outside forces, because they know this is toxic and unhealthy.
Stress is very often the result of subjective conditioning. Events that “don’t go your way,” people that “get on your nerves,” and any number of perceived “problems.”
If your happiness is determined by weather or not people talk to you a certain way or if your bills can all get paid on time, I have news for you. Of course you’re going to be stressed out.
The world is full of any number of things to stress over, if you let them. The solution is to pause, take a step back, and realize that you don’t actually have to let these things stress you out.
Take away the emotional investment and these things automatically lose their power.
Consider the Original Purpose of Stress
Bodily stress is a state of heightened physical agitation developed as a response to adverse stimuli.
What does that mean in plain English? Simply that we evolved the ability to “feel stressed” in order to help us survive truly stressful situations.
If that is the case, what exactly constitutes a situation that warrants stress?
Anything that’s life or death.
Running from a predator, hiding from a predator, finding food when you’re starving, protecting your children from a predator, finding shelter during dangerous weather. These are true environmental stressors that warrants stress.
Obviously, 99% of our “stress” is derived from stimuli that is not even a fraction as bad.
This is because our mind and body can’t differentiate between real stress and fake stress. Our egos have pulled the wool over our eyes.
The result is that many of us exist in an almost constant state of low grade stress, and this has dire consequences for our bodies.
We are not physically and mentally suited to deal with the effects of stress on our bodies day in and day out. The result is accelerated aging, chemical imbalances, poor digestion, mental fatigue, heart problems, ulcers, and even death. It is of the utmost importance that you take control of your Self and stop stressing out as much. Your life depends on it.
Managing Stress in the Moment
It may be difficult to pull your awareness into the present when you feel stress coming on. There are certain actions you can take to reduce your stress no matter the circumstances however.
The best way to deal with stress is always preventive in nature. You want to begin practicing mindfulness and processing your emotions with meditation and physical discipline. If you are serious about reducing your stress you will make this a top priority.
Sometimes it’s necessary to tackle stress in the moment though, which is when these techniques become invaluable.
- Immediately think of the bigger picture. Don’t get caught up in the small stuff. If you find yourself getting annoyed and stressed over tiny events and happenstance, don’t be afraid to ask your Self “why?”
- Breathe deeply and evenly through your nose. Slow and steady breaths will send a signal to your body to “deactivate the alarm” so to speak.
- Force yourself to smile. It sounds hackneyed but this is proven to work. We’re psychologically wired to associate a smile with happiness, so making a smile tells the brain that good things are happening, which will help reduce the symptoms of stress.
- Focus on priorities. If your attention is being compromised by random events and annoyances, train your thoughts on your goals, personal finances, people you love, your “why.” Shifting your focus to substantial realities instead of perceived threats will lower your stress.
- Listen to the right music. Sound has a proven affect on the body and mind because everything is vibration. If you listen to certain frequencies, for example, your body will respond accordingly. We can’t help but resonate with certain vibrations, it’s simply a part of our being. Try calmly meditating while listening to a 182 Hz frequency, or listening to a natural ambient track, such as the sounds of the beach.
- Stop thinking in terms of lack (what you don’t have, what you need, what you lost, etc). The universe is abundant in nature and you are a creator / creatrix.
- Perform a physical task. The more difficult, the better. We are biologically designed to relieve stress when performing physical activity. There is a strong indication that much of our stress actually comes from the lack of physical activity, which throws our brain chemistry and metabolism out of order. You want to perform a somewhat difficult and monotonous task. Rake your entire yard, perform 100 squats or weighted lunges, tear some muscle. Get dirty. This is “real” stress, which will not only get your mind off of your perceived problems but will also help your body balance its chemistry.
- Stop equating outside events with inside fulfillment. The two are not the same and never will be.
- Make a conscious effort to be positive. Since most stress, real or otherwise, is generated and experienced as negative energy, the creation of positive energy overrides the negative, which in turn helps you to feel better and change your circumstances over the long haul.
These basic techniques should be enough to help you get started with managing your life when things start feeling overwhelming. Always keep in mind that you want to be active about the state of your life and your capacity for happiness.
Contentment and joy aren’t just magic states that happen when certain outside conditions are met. There will always be “stressors” in your environment, no matter how rich, successful, liked, and fulfilled you are. It’s how you take responsibility for what you give your energy to, and how you respond to what happens around you, that ultimately determines your stress levels.
The founder of Digital Sages, Matt has an extensive background in self-mastery and has authored several books on the subject. His goal is to demystify important esoteric subjects and help people transform their lives through self-awareness and personal empowerment.