Monday, January 2, 2012

Can you feel less stressed out in 2012?

Stress. We’ve all felt it. You know it by its symptoms. Perhaps it’s a tightening in your chest, or a painful migraine headache. But what is stress, and what can you do about it?

Stress is simply your perception of the space between where you are and where you want to be. If you have overdue bills that you cannot pay, your thoughts about them prompt you to feel stress. If your child is doing poorly in school, your thoughts about how he’s doing lead to feelings of stress. Stress is an indicator of the gap that separates you from what you want.

If you turn your attention to things unwanted and keep it there for a long period of time, your feelings of stress will become prolonged. Eventually, your habit of thinking will cause your body and mind so much stress that you will become ill, either physically or emotionally or both.

Is stress bad? Not necessarily. However, stress is a part of life. It’s what gives you that prick of excitement when you’re working on a project with a looming deadline or running the last few miles of a marathon. If your life were truly free of stress, you’d feel bored and enervated. You’d feel like a limp noodle, and you wouldn’t experience much joy.

So what is the best way to approach stress? What can we do to cope with feelings of stress? My belief is that we need to make it a habit to focus not on that which we don’t want in our lives, but on what makes us happy. Ask yourself what you want from life, and then put your attention there more often than on the negative. Be cognizant of where your focus is during the day. Do you find yourself complaining about people, places, and things? Are you unhappy with your situation, whether at home or at work? These negative thoughts will cause you stress. And rather than helping you improve your life, your thoughts can actually slow down the manifestations that you want. In a very real sense, you get to choose how much stress you experience, based on your choices about what to focus on.

Stress will never go away entirely. There will always be unwanted situations, events, and people in your life – it’s just the way the Universe works. But once you develop a better habit of choosing to focus on the positive rather than the negative, your feelings of stress will diminish. And you’ll find yourself feeling healthier, happier, and more at peace with your world.