Stressful moments can easily cloud our vision and spoil our state of inner peace. Knowing how to relieve stress, and putting that knowledge into action on a consistent basis, is an act of self-care and self-preservation. Here’s a simple 4-step process to keep you feeling calm inside even when it’s chaos outside.
“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.” – Jill Bolte Taylor
Every second is a new chance to take a deep breath and start again. It’s possible to tap into an inner peace that’s not ruffled by the external stresses and struggles in life. Taking care of yourself and the body you live in for this lifetime is a testament to your commitment to peace in the world, too.
SODA–a stress management method developed by internationally recognized meditation expert and stress management counselor, davidji–helps diffuse stressful situations while they’re happening.
If you learn how to relieve stress in healthy ways, you’ll be doing a great service to your brain, nervous system, muscles, joints, heart, stomach, pancreas, intestines, and reproductive system. Not only that, but you’ll be serving peace to the world around you, and everyone you come into contact with.
Though a little stress can be a positive motivator, chronic stress is not good for us. In fact, davidji reveals that when we experience stress, we carry it around with us–in us–for at least 18 hours.
The happy news is that we can learn to let go of what does not serve us.
Emotional Tell: Your Stress Response
davidji says: “Upon feeling the spark of your emotional tell, reach for SODA. Stop, Observe, Detach, and Awaken to the best version of yourself.” Your “emotional tell” is your stress response–either you fight, or you flee.
What happens right before you yell at someone (fight) or shut down (flight)? Here are a few possible emotional responses that you might experience when you’re in a stressful situation:
- You clench your fists
- Your breathing becomes shallow
- You feel heat or pressure in your chest
- Tears well up behind your eyes
Pay attention to that immediate response, because it’s telling you that you now have a choice to make in this moment–you can choose how you carry this weight, and therefore how peacefully you can shed the weight.
It’s not the stimuli itself, but our response to the stimuli which determines whether we suffer with stress or rise above in peace.
When you notice the signal, remember SODA.
How to Relieve Stress in the Moment
When you’re faced with a stressful situation, remember that this practice is always on your side the moment that it shows up. You only need one deep breath in and one big exhale to work through these four steps.
As soon as you realize your emotional tell kicking in, say aloud or in your head: STOP.
This interruption to your stress response gives you the opportunity to break the stress cycle and forge a new path.
See yourself through a wider lens. Imagine you are a bigger version of you, floating above your body and above the situation.
You may need to float up to the ceiling or the clouds or even the moon before you feel you can comfortably observe the situation with a wider perspective. The goal is to replace subjective individuals with an objective One.
Imagine how small your two bodies would look from above. You may not even be able to tell that they are two separate bodies at all.
Put energetic and physical distance between you and who–or what–is upsetting you. Roll your chair back from the computer. Move the phone farther away from your ear. Rock back on your heels if you’re face-to-face with your stress.
Breathe in deeply. Inhale the moment.
This step works well when you simultaneously create distance (even if it’s an inch) and take a deep breath in.
Exhale and ask yourself, “What would the best version of ‘me’ do?”
Our best version is compassionate, forgiving, clear, and defenseless. Our best self leads with love. Ultimately what we’re doing is choosing love over fear.
Remember What Matters Most
Let’s serve our bodies by being of service to our minds and our hearts–by remembering what really matters in life. Let’s choose to love above all else and to evaluate the situation without judgment, because that’s the highest form of intelligence.
When we choose to love ourselves we can see past our own insecurities, sadness, anger, disagreement, and sense of separation. We realize that the person on the other side of the situation is living their reality, and we are living ours. We can choose love again and again, if we’re only willing to remember that we have the choice to make.
Maybe you choose to love yourself enough to resolve the matter peacefully. Maybe you choose to forgive that person because you value your own peace too much. Maybe you choose to embrace the situation for the lesson you’re given, even if you don’t know what that lesson is yet.
For every problem, there is an answer. With every difficulty, there is relief. You can make something beautiful from the chaos by moving with it, through it, and, therefore, beyond it.
Please share your own stress-relief practices, helpful lessons learned in transforming stress to peace, and any inspiring stories of making a positive shift with me in the comments.
Share this post with someone who deserves to be at peace within themselves.
For every missed opportunity to choose love, kindness, forgiveness, and peace, there’s another new opportunity to try again. Just keep practicing and try again, always one more time.