When you’re stressed out, that feeling doesn’t have to dictate your happiness, limit your possibilities, or keep you stuck anywhere you don’t want to be. Rather than avoiding the source of our stress, let’s try greeting it with a non-judgmental stance, a growth mindset, and a grateful attitude.
“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” – Virginia Woolf
The above quote is one of my favorites, because it means that we must move through it in order to move past it; we must feel it to heal it; we must face our fears if we would claim our power. When we’re stressed out — and if we are to have peace within ourselves — these are the things we want to be doing.
Last week’s post covered the first ten things to remember when we feel stressed out:
- Not all thoughts are true
- What you say is important
- It’s good to accept help
- Comparison is unrealistic
- There’s something to be grateful for right now
- There’s something to be learned
- There are simple joys to be found
- Not everything is under control, but everything will be okay in the end
- You can make a decision you love
- The only person you can change is yourself
Let’s continue with another set of reminders to consider during stressful times.
10 More Things to Remember When You’re Stressed Out
11. Awareness is your friend.
Though we oftentimes want to escape from the stressful moment, the only way to move beyond it is to move through it, with presence and awareness. If we try to distract ourselves from the situation to the point of denial, we can become unaware of what the stress is doing to the body and the mind. We can remain tense for long periods of time if we fail to recognize the signs of stress.
Choose to stay aware of your internal environment, and you’re better able to consciously navigate the stress and access a steady, calm state.
12. Your breath has the capacity to calm you.
Taking long, slow, mindful deep breaths has immediate relaxing effects on the body. Your breath is always working for you, yet it’s a tool you can consciously employ anytime, anywhere, to instantly feel better. No matter what’s happening around you or inside you, taking a deep breath is appropriate.
13. Expectations are not always realistic or called for.
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of pushing ourselves in order to live up to the expectations presented to us. When you feel overburdened and stressed out, remember to be gentle with yourself. In order to recover, to heal, and to feel better, we must take care of our own basic needs. Prioritize getting enough sleep over the need to finish the dishes before bedtime, for instance. Don’t feel guilty about filling yourself up when you feel overstretched. Some things can wait.
14. Do what you feel in your heart to be right.
In all honesty, what feels like the right thing to do? Do that. You don’t need to impress anyone, not even yourself. You don’t need to live up to anyone’s expectations, not even your own. Do your best to do what’s right. That’s the best use of this moment. Pay attention to your gut feelings and no matter how good something looks, walk away from it if it feels wrong.
15. It’s okay to say no.
Sometimes, we just have too many tasks to complete in the amount of time we have available. It’s okay not to book your week to the last available hour. Leave yourself some space for spontaneity to work itself into your schedule. Let “no” or “I need to check my schedule first” be your immediate answer to commitments (unless, of course, your heart is screaming “yes!”). This will help you better recognize and manage the temptation to blindly commit, which can lead to over scheduling.
This will also help reveal any resistance you have to turning down commitments. Notice any internal pressure you feel to accommodate others, even when it doesn’t work for your schedule, your priorities, and your dreams.
16. Life is a journey.
You and I and all of us are a work in process. How wonderful, because that means the stressful situation you’re experiencing right now is not who you are. It doesn’t define you; it merely directs you. You’re more than whatever is stressing you out. You’re more than any negative thought you’re thinking. You’re more than where you’ve been and what you’ve done.
Focus on the present. There is magic in this moment, for in this moment you can choose the next step of your journey. Happiness and fulfillment comes when you learn to love the way you travel; it’s not the destination itself.
17. Happiness has everything to do with you.
Happiness is not bound to your relationships, your job, your friends, your career, or your vacation. Your happiness starts not with someone else, but with you. Your happiness lives not anywhere else, but within yourself. Happiness is a way you live, and it’s a journey and a process, just like you are.
What you choose to do in this moment can either lead you further down the stressful path you’re on, or closer to what brings you joy. You can make this choice once you awaken to your capacity to choose.
18. You can transform this into something positive.
Turn your pain into power by taking a deeper look at what it really is: information. It’s a part of your journey, not the entire path. What can you do with this piece of the puzzle? What can you create with it? Will you let yourself be buried under its weight, or will you grow through the dirt to reach the light? This pain is an opportunity for self-transformation.
19. Move towards something, not away from something.
When we move towards what we love, we move in love and we discover more love. We can see the goodness in people, we can stay present in our day-to-day actions, we can trust that this is where we’re meant to be—these are all things drawn from love which draw us towards love. When we’re running away from fear, from anything that causes us pain or shame or struggle, we let the fear take over our decision-making–our decisions become based on stress.
Focus on what you’re moving towards rather than away from, and your thoughts, choices, and actions will stem from love in a spirit of growth. It’s a way of focusing on the positive instead of bashing the negative. It’s a way of prioritizing love over fear.
20. A meaningful life has stress.
Being stressed out might mean you’re on an important journey. A meaningful life is not about having lots of money, being the best, never being stressed, or ever being perfect. A meaningful life means being grateful for what we have, and in that way we are rich.
Meaning can be revealed when we start prioritizing the blessings in life over the stress in this world. To be meaningful means to be ourselves, and in this way we get it right. It’s about being real, being humble, being helpful, being kind, falling down, getting back up, and being able to share the happiness we grow and the lessons we learn along the way with the people around us.
Read last week’s post with the first 10 things to remember when you’re stressed out.
When you’re stressed out, how do you move past the stress and into a better state of mind? Please share your own thoughts, lessons, insights, or experiences with me in the comments.
Share this post with someone you care about.
Remember to breathe, and smile.