“Excuuuse me, but this is definitely MY side of the street.” I bitchily scowled at the girl who had cut her corner so sharp that I had to drastically hit the brakes on my bike and come to a full standstill.
All this went down right at the bottom of a bridge over one of the Amsterdam canals. Meaning I actually had to ‘climb’ for at least a full 3 seconds before being at full bike speed again.
SIGH, FML RIGHT!?
Oh how I wish the torture had ended there, but alas, I was doomed to be right behind a newbie in my very busy Ashtanga yoga class. A form of yoga I had been practicing for 4 days a week for 2 whole months now…sooo, my superiority was rightfully claimed by my seniority… But this newbie, my goodness, like Bambi on ice she stood on her yoga mat, arms flailing, legs shaking, and the occasional foot right up in my face… MY GOD, could there be anything more annoying?
Yes, yes there could!
What was more annoying was the fact that I was actually this annoyed in the first place. And that even though I could observe myself feeling this annoyed, that Zen part of me (the one that was observing the very non-Zensical part) wasn’t able to do anything about it.
See, all this was caused earlier that day when someone had thrown a bucket of stress in my direction.
(Even though no arms or legs were about to fall off, no money or clients were about to be lost, and it wouldn’t even have caused the mildest of frictions with the parties involved if it hadn’t been blown out of proportions.)
And the thing with stress is, it’s sticky.
It clings to the people involved like white on rice and it takes a long while to scrub off once it’s found you. That, and it obviously carries horrific negative implications. I mean, my 2-hour long Hermione Granger impression above is nothing compared to the serious business that is depression, anxiety, and a whole host of not so great physical conditions.
By the way, don’t you loooove how that kind of sounds like stress is an alien slowly trying to conquer and dominate planet Earth by debilitating its inhabitants one by one? Like it’s one of those amazing b-movies called “Attack of the 50-foot Stressmonster”…
Anyway, the thing that still amazes me about the incident above is how easy it is for a relatively chilled out World Peace Rebel like myself to get sucked into this realm of stress and how ugly its immediate implications are. Because I usually try to encourage newbies in yoga class by smiling at them and remembering how I was exactly the same not even 2 months ago… And as Amsterdam is all about the
bass bike and none of us adhere to any rules, I’m usually not at all phased by being cut off.
That implies that this one incident led me to do the direct opposite of what will make World Peace happen:
Instead of spreading my own inner peace and happiness (in the simplest of ways), I let all my stress and frustration out on innocent bystanders. Either by a direct scowl&growl or by engulfing them in my little thundercloud.
But let’s forget about World Peace for a sec and simply acknowledge that it TOTALLY SUCKS to be this stressed. It’s awfully annoying to feel like the spaghetti in your brain is completely tied up in knots. And there’s no way that this stress will help you move your life in the positive direction you want it to either…it will not make your business lift off, it will not make your relationships easier and more fun, it will not help you get to the gym or walk past the Oreo’s.
Conclusion: unless you’re faced with a wooly mammoth or sable tooth tiger, stress is bad.
No surprises there right?
So, what then? How do you deal with stress?
You could, of course, make sure you design your life in such a way that you MINIMISE the elements that give you stress.
That you have a job you love. That all the frictions in your relationships are ironed out. That the people that are known to give you bad vibrations and trigger your stress bone are no longer a part of your life. That you’re happy with who you are and the life you live. And it ‘just so happens’ that I’ve written a pretty nifty workbook around the technique to make exactly that happen in the most practical way. You can download it here:
So how do you deal with stress when you are caught in that whirlwind RIGHT NOW?
Well…first and foremost, you’ll need to become AWARE of the stress in the very moment you’re experiencing it.
Know how stress manifests itself in you…what it feels like on a physical level…what it feels like on an emotional level. What it does to your daily behaviors (food, exercise, growling at little children and animals, etc.). The moment you know all this of yourself, is the moment you’ll be better able to recognize it when it’s there.That’s when you can say to yourself: “Hooooold on for just one second…this ain’t cool…this ain’t what I want or need in my life right now… This needs to STOP!”
And that’s the moment you can take RESPONSIBILITY for your stress.
First to diffuse the stress bomb you’ve become in whatever way works for you (hiking, yoga, talking, dancing, making music sleeping, having sex, etc.(Mind you, I’m talking diffusing short term stress here not releasing any chronic stress you might be suffering.)
(Mind you, I’m talking diffusing short term stress here not releasing any chronic stress you might be suffering.)
Secondly to apologize to the crying children and angry colleagues you’ve left in your wake.
And thirdly, to TAKE POSITIVE ACTION to not let you get to this point in the future (see the workbook to Design Your Life above for the ‘how’).
Stress will never fully disappear from our lives. It’s how we as human beings are programmed and it’s how our lives, businesses, and society simply operates at the moment. But that does not mean that we need to continue letting stress rule our lives and behaviors…
So here’s my question to you: do you know how stress manifests itself in you and do you have a gameplan in place to diffuse it once it’s there?