Tips to Help Fend off the Stress Monster and Be More Healthy!
By Christy Harden
The other day I spotted a coffee cup that read, “Stress is Caused by Giving a Fuck.” That’s one take, but I’ve got a different one: Stress is the result of holding expectations that are out of alignment with reality.
What happens when you expect the family to finally get along at the next holiday party and… they don’t? Stress. Or how about trying to get more work done than can be accomplished in a workday? Stress. What happens when we expect things to go well on a blind date and instead the night ends up awkward and strained? Stress.
What would happen if, instead of paying attention to expectations, we were simply open to experiencing what is actually occurring? I’ll tell you what: A lot less stress.
That doesn’t mean we don’t want things to go our way or that we stop trying to accomplish anything. Aim for the stars, absolutely! Follow your heart and live your dreams and also cultivate the awareness that in reality, things don’t always go as planned. Once you accept this, you will experience much less stress in your life.
The key? Realize expectations are only fantasies. An expectation is merely an expression of how you want things to go—just knowing that takes a lot of the kick out of dinner cancelations, rained-out games and vacation food poisoning.
In a traffic jam? Re-frame and replace the stressful, reality-fighting thought of “I have to get to work on time!” with “There’s nothing I can do about this. Next time I’ll leave earlier. Today I can enjoy this ride by talking with a friend/listening to some music/noticing this gorgeous scenery.”
Motivational comedian Kyle Cease sells shirts that say, “I HOPE I SCREW THIS UP!” Why? To remind him that what’s important is the authentic experience, enjoying the moment and responding to what’s actually happening rather than trying to stick with a pre-made plan that may no longer work for him or for the situation—or worse—trying to be perfect. How many times do we forget to enjoy what’s going on around us because we’re trying to say the right thing and appear this way or that in a play to get others’ (or even trickier: our own) approval? Living life from a point of in-the-moment authenticity can be an incredibly freeing paradigm shift.
Remember the old saying “live and let live”? There’s a lot of wisdom there. We can often dial down the stress in our lives simply by taking responsibility for our own thoughts and actions, letting others do their thing and realizing that getting what we want (our expectations), is not always on the agenda.
Awesome resource: Check out Byron Katie’s The Work at thework.com for a simple realigning process that questions thoughts and beliefs that deny reality.
Guest Blogger Christy Harden is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Coach, actor and SLP, Christy Harden passionately supports individuals in the discovery of their authentic voice on the journey to health and well-being. Former En*theos professor and author of Guided By Your Own Stars, Christy believes that true health unfolds in the sacred space of reconnection with authentic self, nature and community. Her second book, I Heart Raw is scheduled to be released soon. See christyharden.com or email her at: email@example.com