How do you deal with stress? This is probably one of the most important questions to ask ourselves. The reason for this is because in order to be completely free of stress we need to develop a deeper understanding of ourselves, our minds and our existence. Freedom from stress is true freedom and the foundation of real happiness.
Stress happens at multiple levels. You can have stress at an “obvious” level, and you can have stress at subtler and subtler levels. So, for example, physical manifestations of stress are easier to see and grasp, such as body ache, headache, or unable to sleep sufficiently. At this level, you ask yourself some simple questions like, “Am I eating healthy food, getting enough exercise, drinking enough water, getting enough sunlight, and going to bed early enough?” That is the more obvious level of physical stress. To deal with stress at this level, there are well-known things you can do – these include, eat more vegetables and greens, drink more water, exercise or walk more, get massages, meditate and get to bed at a good time.
Once we have taken care of the obvious - the physical aspects of stress - then you can get one level below that and deal with what is going on in your mind. Work stresses are often related to workload, deadlines, politics and relationships. Home stresses often include trying to juggle work, home and relationships. At this level, you can deal with stress by getting more organized and disciplined with how you manage your tasks, better time and interruption management, and how to understand and manage people’s expectations. There are many books and resources on getting organized. The key point is not just to consult such resources but then implement good ideas you learn about. People often fall short in implementation rather than understanding. You can also learn new skills in communicating assertively to express your needs and concerns better without worrying about adding to your stress.
But stress goes deeper than this. As you get deeper into the subtler causes for stress, you have to start thinking about your mind and what is going on in your mind. This takes more self-awareness, but this too can be learned. Without this self-awareness, you are dealing with the symptoms of stress rather than the root cause of it. This is really stress management rather than stress removal. It is easy to get conditioned into believing that stress is a natural part of a busy life with high expectations and tight deadlines. But there are root causes of stress and these are to do with our psyche, how we view the world, and how we react to situations.
To understand the root cause of stress, we have to understand the concept of “attachment”. Attachment itself has obvious and subtler aspects to it. So, for example, I can be attached to my dog and if the dog gets sick I can get stressed. That's one obvious type of attachment. You can also get attached to your job, where just contemplating losing your job is stressful. You can also get attached to concepts, beliefs, ideologies and organizations, etc. So imagine you're a member of a group, even something quite simple like a photography club. If someone criticizes the club and you get annoyed or angry, that's attachment, and that creates stress. You can also get attached to disliking something, and that is just as capable of creating stress.
Many of these attachments have been created by us, our life experiences, our social conditioning, and by our upbringing. These are things that either we have learned are very important or somehow we have made them part of our very existence, and part of our identity. When something becomes part of our identity, that is at a deep lever. We feel attacked when it is threatened in any way. If our job becomes our identity, or if our financial status becomes our identity, then we spend a lot of energy worrying about anything that threatens them. This creates stress, anger and anxiety. Understanding attachment is itself a process because we have to learn to develop our self-awareness to recognize attachment in action. However, once you are able to recognize attachment in action, you can make conscious adjustments in how you react to situations and avoid the stress that would normally be created by our conditioned responses.
When you feel stressed, it is some aspect of attachment that is probably at play because it is these attachment that cloud our judgment, our inner vision, and our ability to see a bigger more empowering truth. Attachments distract us, take our energy and hide from us what's important. So the important thing is to become self-aware of these attachments in play within us and see the stress being caused by our need to defend and protect these attachments. Developing self-awareness is therefore an important part of the process. Self-awareness reveals the impressions etched in our minds that are creating stressful responses to situations.
There are practical ways of developing self-awareness in the midst of a busy life. These include learning a new empowering world view, understanding how the mind works, understanding attachment, recognizing how we are conditioned to make choices that create stress, and then taking conscious action based on the new understanding. Meditation is another way of increasing self-awareness. When you are able to create stillness within, you naturally become more aware of the workings of your inner self.
So, at one level you can deal with stress through exercise, meditation, breathing, and massage etc. You can also deal with it by learning new organizational and communication skills. At a deeper level though, to deal with the root cause of stress, it comes down to what’s happening inside you! Once you set your goal to be free from stress and understand the nature of attachment, you can make choices that move you towards this goal, and suddenly the attachments don't have such a hold on you anymore. That is the beginning of really dealing with stress and eliminating stress once and for all.
Dr. Sunil Sharma:- www.SunilSharma.com
The Power of Self-Awareness
Phoenix, AZ 85001