In my experience, one of three paths reveals itself during times of heighten stress: action, inaction, or defeat. Inaction, which I think is far more common, is the assessment that all of the elements that contribute to stress are so overwhelming, it is impossible to make a choice in either direction. It’s the freeze. Whether it’s tackling that massive to-do list or it’s one situation in particular that is causing you distress, the freeze happens because dealing with it head-on feels too hard but giving up is not an option. In this case, one technique I’ve been trying recently is the a version of what psychologist call exposure therapy, namely systematic desensitization. What I’ve done for myself is taken these concepts and implemented them in ways that make sense to my life.
Last week we talked about what stress is. This week we start to learn strategies for taking it on and using stress to help us grow instead of allowing it to derail us. Strategy One is probably the kindest way in. It requires the least amount of discomfort. It’s Gratitude. Gratitude is now this big buzz word in the wellness community, which like all things in the wellness boom, has its pros and cons. What does it mean to actually embody a lifestyle of gratitude though? Gratitude also does not mean ignoring that things get challenging or that there are moments, sometimes large spans of time in life, that are truly distressing. This would be simply ignoring the reality of the world we live in. Things get hard. People can be mean. Life circumstances may change and leave you feeling utterly unstable. In our modern lives, gratitude means embracing the stressors and instead of deciding that they are a threat, treating them as challenges from which we can learn and grow.
Stress takes many forms but it is easiest to take the idea of stress learn it from the physiological perspective and translate it into the emotional and psychological perspective. Essentially, let’s look at the body and then see how those same concepts apply to the mind. This week, we’ll get a baseline definition for stress so that we can explore how to turn stress into our platform for growth.