I am a big believer that a balancing act of life is a little more involved than just eliminating the stress that is obvious.
I know lots of people without obvious stress: they have lots of love in their lives, stable careers, healthy bodies and network of great friends. They have animals, they exercise, and some even meditate or do a spiritual practice that brings them peace.
But still, the stress creeps in from time to time.
Unsure of where it comes from, it becomes a larger issue. When you aren’t quite sure where the tension comes from it can be far more unsettling.
It’s easier when you can say ” I am stressed about my relationship” or money, or health issues or an argument or anything else that is tangible. These are the things that you can actually do something about in a more obvious way.
Uncovering the source of hidden stress can be enlightening for your whole life, helping to shape habits that create your personal wellness.
Every once in a while I have a strange stress feeling that I can’t quite identify on the surface. After years of dealing with these bouts of stress that land in my body as physical tension or emotional anxiety when nothing really seems to be wrong in my world, I have found a few ways to unwind it without diving into the feeling and letting it control me.
1. Clean house! There are times when mess is obvious. When mess isn’t obvious and I fell off-kilter, washing baseboards (you have no idea how dirty these can get before you wash them with a damp cloth), sweeping under furniture, doing some laundry and scrubbing spots that get neglected (window sills, the oven grates) brings more lightness to space. Since space is a mirror of life, this is often all the lightness that is needed to shake off the stress.
2. Eating lots of iron-packed foods and a spectrum of vitamins. Physical stress can come from small deficiencies. You would be amazed how profoundly a slight iron deficiency or a Vitamin D deficiency has taken my world into a place of real panic. There is nothing quite as draining as an exhaustion that you can’t shake no matter how much you sleep!
My first line of defense- lots of green smoothies, lots of iron-rich food and lots of food in general. I have a multivitamin on hand for the times I am just burning through nutrients- especially when writing a ton. Mental energy burns nutrients, too! You may be a mental athlete in your life, and that requires nourishment!
If you aren’t sure what you lack, a great trip to the doctor can help you uncover what may be slightly awry. My friends have had everything from thyroid and adrenal gland exhaustion to electrolyte deficiencies that have created stress where none seemed to be on the surface.
Listen to your body and trust that when it feels wrong there may be an underlying reason that you can discover and correct!
3. Drinking more water. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, dehydration leads to a state of being “tired and wired.” It stresses your kidney energy which is the energy through to illuminate your life. Have you ever had too much coffee and landed in a panic that leaves you feeling sick for days afterward, even aching? You may- in part- be dehydrated.
4. Dumping thoughts into a journal. Journals are my universal cure for all that vexes my whole system.
5. Roaming around for inspiration. One of my more silent stresses: a need for inspiration. When you are super-productive and creating a ton, you need to “immerse” in inspiration to stay “full.” The worst feeling I get in the midst of doing what I love? Feeling like I have “run out” of something great to add to a consultation, an article or a project. The only way I can get it back is to see art, read books, hike, see films, cook… you name it, there’s always some way to find fresh imagery and concepts to mix into life.
6. Taking some Magnesium. I happen to love Natural Calm. Magnesium powder is my cure-all these days. Muscle strain, unexplained tension, a need to go to bed earlier- that’s all a reason to drink some Magnesium in hot water.
7. Hitting a party! Totally mindless dancing, socializing in new places, getting all dressed up and seeing music… this is a big part of working out the inertia and transforming pent up stress into fun!
You will have your own ways, or you can make any of the above your own. No matter what you do, I hope you don’t entertain the stressful feelings that make no sense and let them become more of a habit than they need to be.
My old workaholic self didn’t think I was accomplishing anything unless I was at the brink of collapse. I didn’t feel I was “evolving” unless there was a bit of duress. This wasn’t really sustainable. Incredible stress is never sustainable!
While we can’t avoid stress altogether, finding ways to strike a balance keep the joy flowing where there was once a struggle.
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