I read an article recently titled 5 Signs You’re Addicted to Stress (mindbodygreen.com). It was eye opening and disappointing that I’ve let myself get to that point. I’m being open and honest about who I am, and unfortunately it’s not all ponies and rainbows. I want to enjoy life more in 2015. It’s a pretty vague “resolution”…but I want to make it happen. Here is an excerpt from the article and I bet a lot of people will see themselves in these:
- You complain a lot.
Are your nights out with friends filled with complaints about work, your frustrating family, or just life in general? Do you look forward to telling everyone how hard your life is and how nothing will make it better? Stress addicts love to complain about how tough their lives are. They have a hard time focusing on any positive aspects of their life, and usually feel like their lives are harder than everyone else’s.
- You don’t have any free time.
Are you always busy? Do you feel like you can never plan anything fun because you’ll never have enough time to fit it in? Stress addicts move on autopilot from one activity to the next. They think that a packed schedule means success, but it more often leads to their being too busy or tired to enjoy the fun moments in their lives. If they have have downtime, they reward themselves with mindless activities that allow them to disconnect from the present moment and then feel guilty about wasting time.
- You believe the payoff later on will be greater if you’re unhappy now.
Do you think if you work extra hard now and are always stressed it will lead to more success later on? Stress addicts usually feel unfulfilled, spending their time worrying about the future, but don’t realize they have control over what’s going on with the present. They believe their hard work will lead to better things later on, but forget to enjoy their current situations.
- Your relationships are suffering.
Do you struggle to maintain friendships for long periods of time? Do others tell you that you don’t know how to communicate? Stress addicts are so focused on accomplishing tasks all the time that they forget to connect with and appreciate the people in their lives. They see them as appointments and something else that needs to be fit into their schedule. They feel disconnected during their time with their family and friends, because they’re worried about work and other tasks that believe they should be doing. They’re not present with their family.
- You can’t remember what makes you happy.
Do you worry more about completing tasks on your to-do list then you do about having fun? Can you remember the last time you actually took a day off from work, or from just being busy? Stress addicts struggle to recognize what makes them happy, and don’t know how to enjoy their free time because they’re always worried about what might happen next. They can’t remember how to stay in the present moment long enough to enjoy it.
Ok, so I am addicted to stress!! What am I going to do about it? How am I going to make my NY Resolution stick? I am incorporating concepts of yoga into my life. Some people may think that yoga is just an exercise where you twist up your body into funky poses and hold them until you cramp up and fall over. Don’t get me wrong….this has happened before! But the concepts of yoga that I’m talking about are much deeper. I am working on the mental and spiritual areas more-so than the physical. Sure, the physical side is a part of it all…but I am working to train my mind to be present, focused, and peaceful.
There is a very superficial level of yoga – the physical side. But, there is more depth to it than that. My intention that I’ve set for my practice is to really work on being more accepting of myself, my environment, my circumstances, and be less of a reactionary, STRESSED OUT type of person. The truth is that we as humans are always attempting to live in a state of comfort. We want to hold onto pleasurable feelings and experiences and eliminate (as quickly as possible) the sources of anything that makes us feel uncomfortable or stressed. The problem with this is that we become angry, irritable individuals the second something doesn’t go our way, or if a situation or someone “makes” us feel uncomfortable or annoyed. But guess what – that’s life! Life throws uncomfortable shit at us ALL DAY LONG. I want to learn how to better deal with stress in general. I no longer want to be addicted to stress…it’s unhealthy.
So, to me, the practice that I’m incorporating isn’t about magically eliminating all of the unpleasant things in my environment that I have absolutely no control over. That’s just not realistic at all! It’s about learning to gain control of my reactions and emotions so that I can truly have inner peace regardless of circumstance. How does yoga help with this? Yoga teaches you to control your breath, breathing through the pain and discomfort while you’re holding a pose or stretching a sore muscle, etc. Your first reaction when you feel discomfort is to stop doing whatever it is that is causing the discomfort. That is your general reaction in life to any circumstance that is uncomfortable. But how can we grow if we never get out of our comfort zone? See where I’m going with this?
Yoga also helps your mind focus and be PRESENT. What does that even mean? I’m sure you’ve done it. You’re sitting with a friend or your spouse, having a conversation. They start talking and all of a sudden your mind starts wandering, you disconnect, and all of a sudden you have a grocery list being comprised in your mind. And then, OH – it’s your turn to talk again…but you were only half listening…so you don’t have much to say. Or, you’re at dinner and the person you are with goes to the bathroom or there is a lull in the conversation. You automatically whip out your cell phone to finish up a game of trivia, scroll through Facebook, or post an update on Twitter. Instead – why don’t you take a second to look around…take in your scenery…just BE. Be in the moment that you are in. You can’t get that back.
My advice…before automatically pulling out of whatever uncomfortable situation you’re in, before automatically disengaging and pulling out your cell phone, before getting pissed off in rush hour traffic, before grabbing a cupcake to eat because your stressed out about your kid throwing a tantrum…take 30 seconds and just breathe…try to let go of the circumstance, come back to YOU, find your peace, and then proceed. It really does help. I have failed miserably at this time and time again. Even this morning. Someone didn’t automatically GO when the light turned green (IDIOT! f*&%)- so they got a mouthful of expletives from me. Then I came into work pissed off. I’m not perfect. But – as always…I’m a work in progress.
So, in short – I want to be less of a NUTCASE, be present, decrease stress, and enjoy life! Lofty goal…but I am working on it. Oh and I want to be more bendy, too. <–Physical perk!
I’m excited to see how this practice transcends into other areas of my life. Who’s with me?
“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens” – Louis Proto