Why We Are Stressed Out, And How To Overcome It.
“Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there’.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
I hear from every corner that everybody is stressed, be it about a job, family, relationship, daily life or whatever.
I also hear myself saying, day in and day out, “Things are cool, but as usual, a bit stressed, you know.” The truth is, I am not stressed at all.
First of all, it’s a habit to talk about stress. We talk about stress because it takes away the responsibility from our shoulders to own our shit . We love to be stressed out.
It’s a great escape from the reality of the feelings we have, which we don’t like to admit as much. So what feelings are actually stress-related?
The stress of mind
If I am really feeling stressed, and go deep into meditation, or try to find the source of my stressed state of mind and body, I find the following descriptions:
- low self-esteem
Possible expressions of what we call stress could be:
If we are having a deadline at work, we are stressed, because we have fear and are anxious of not being good enough in front of our boss and colleagues.
If we have a breakup or fight with somebody we love, we often feel insecure and powerless. From time to time, we are just depressed for any possible reason, and depression triggers lots of other stress-related feelings.
If we’ve lost our perspective, we feel hopeless for days to come. Sometimes we hate somebody or a situation we are in.
But here’s what matters: Do we just say I’m stressed so the colleague, lover or family member leaves us alone? Or are we really stressed? If so, why? If we are stressed and don’t like the situation we’re in, is there a way to change it?
I believe, the first step to exit out of a stressed state of mind and body is the identification of the subtler feelings of stress. What makes us feel stressed?
We have to get to the source. If we are truthful to ourselves, then we will establish the fact that stress is nothing else than our trapped emotions.
But it isn’t our fault, because from the time we were born, we have been taught to resist bad emotions instead of letting them be, feeling them, and living through them. If we feel bad feelings, we immediately try to resist them.
For example, if we have heartache, we immediately try to suppress our pain, and it only gets worse.
We create a chain of never-ending pain and emotions, which makes us deeply unhappy. And that leads to a depression and a deep dissatisfaction.
My personal experience with dealing with stress is actually very simple and works well for me, so I would love to share it.
Meditation is not for everybody and that’s absolutely okay. But there’s a little practice which can be helpful. And we need one tool for that: self-awareness.
If we can be aware, that in that moment we are experiencing stress-related feelings, then the next step would be to consciously try not to fight them.
Sometimes I imagine my mind to be a little, very sweet, crying child (as my Vipassana teacher taught me, and it works great for me) and I imagine taking this child into my arm, giving it a warm, loving hug, and telling it something like: “You feel/experience jealousy now, that’s okay. It will pass away. Just feel it. Give this feeling space within yourself. Cry it out if you want. You’re safe.”
So with that, I practice self-compassion and also allow the stress-related feelings to live and then pass away. If I manage to allow them just to flow out, I don’t feel the need to talk about them for hours or stay depressed for weeks.
I can bring myself back to focus on what really matters to me. The full acceptance of the presence of stress-related feelings is a reminder of the higher purpose we have.
The stress of body
The other things which cause and facilitate stress, are unhealthy nutrition and not being active/moving enough. Our mind and our body are one team, they have to play together.
It’s impossible to have a clear and contented mind by constantly pigging out on junk food, sugar and unhealthy canned goods, followed by alcohol and tobacco. So if we feel stress, we tend to overeat or drink alcohol.
We feel the need to consume a lot of sugar and to have a solid, not-so-healthy restaurant meal. So our mind is stressed, and now we stress our body. Counterproductive, isn’t it?
I recently started a Vitamin C course, thanks to Abel James and his Podcast Episode with the amazing Dr. Andrew Saul, and I try to regulate my sugar consumption.
Of course, when I sometimes eat a piece of cake, I’m aware that there’s sugar in it, but it is also in any kind of bread, balsamic vinegar, yogurt, smoothies, etc.
Then, thanks to Lewis Howes and his Podcast Episode with Dr.Hyman, I started to eat even more natural fats like avocados or walnuts and feel much better.
If I experience stress-related feelings, I force myself to work out and make myself an amazing, fresh green smoothie, and I immediately feel better.
I sweat the hell out of me, and have a great green raw dinner, instead of drinking a bottle of wine with a friend while running off at the mouth about my oh-such-a-big-stress.
While trying to figure out how to deal with stress-related feelings, we have to become an A-Level-Super-Team with our own mind and body. We have to understand, to support, to love, and to feel our mind and body.
What does loving our body mean? Not overeating, eating vegetables, and drinking a lot of clear water. It means sleeping well, giving ourselves the chance to rest, and also being kind and loving, if we feel low energy.
It means working out regularly, especially if we have an office job. I go for Hot Iron training and a swim before work early in the morning, and I have to admit that it affects a miracle.
It’s as simple as it sounds. If we want to experience less stress-related feelings, we have to identify their source, and be aware that they are present in us. We have to become aware why they arise.
As a next step, we have to support ourselves to experience and to live through them. Mind-resistance causes more pain. Bad nutrition causes more pain. Mens sana in corpore sano.
There’s no other way to nurture our body and mind than through new healthy habits, which are available to everyone. And the consequent rewards for our body and mind are priceless.
Olga Chirkova was born in St. Petersburg and moved to Germany when she was nine. She believes there is no journey which is more difficult than the journey to your own true nature. It can be hard, painful, confusing, but it’s worth it. It is the most beautiful and honest journey there is. Come with her on the journey on her blog.