Stress: Do One Thing Different

busy-peopleCan stress be addictive? What do you think? We get used to a certain level of pushing and making things happen. Stress becomes a comfort zone, of sorts. Uncomfortably comfortable. We hate it, but don’t know how to BE in life unless we’re running. We may feel bored, or out of sorts when life slows down or there’s some space. We look for ways to fill the emptiness rather than allow ourselves to replenish, let the body and our mind slow down and RELAX. Eckhart Tolle defines stress as “being here, but wanting to be there.”

When I’m speaking to groups I ask a stress assessment question: “On a scale of 0-10, with 10 being high, how stressed do you run on average?” If there are thirty people in a room, about a fourth will raise their hand to being at an 8 -10 range. I encourage you to check your average stress level right now and take a BREATH.

In the early 90s I taught lunch-time stress management classes to companies like Levi Strauss. One of my co-presenters was a Chi Gung master. During his presentation he would explain to the audience that stress is exponential, not just cumulative. This is why it’s so important to have true down time where the body is able to relax, restore and replenish. Yet, how many Americans take a two-week vacation? Most don’t and I’m talking about before the economic changes.

bodystress_21During the 90s people were stressed, but I’ve noticed a new level of intensity since the development of the internet, cell phones, texting and the belief that we need to be “plugged in” all the time.

While stress may not be a true addiction, think about the things or activities you use to cope with stress? These guilty pleasures, or “lite addictions,” run the gamut from the daily coffee fix, to a couple hits of pot to unwind, to hours on Facebook, or TV. These distractions temporarily make us feel better, but do nothing to CHANGE the situations we’re dealing with or our expectations of ourselves. Awareness is the first step to change. If your average stress level is running an 8-10, what’s ONE thing you will do different? Do it today.