Chances are you have a great deal of responsibilities that need your attention every day; your kids, your spouse, your job, your homework, your bills, your social media posts, or whatever. The more responsibilities you have the more pressure you collect in yourself. Responsibilities take your time, your focus, your energy and sometimes your joy. They can weigh you down, they can stress you out. The world, your world, is depending on you not to drop the ball. It doesn’t care that you have a proposal due by Friday and that your kids need to be picked up for soccer practice every day at 4:00 even though most responsible people work until 6:00 and that your dog needs emergency surgery and your volunteer organizations require mandatory participation. The world doesn’t care about all the things you are required to pull off. It demands you suck it up and keep up.
Do you feel this way? Have you ever felt this way? This kind of stress sucks. It can actually suck the life right out of you. It can even crush you to the point where you feel like your dying. In fact, it could actually be the leading causer of ALL diseases. Stress, caused by our responsibilities, caused by us.
Wait. What? Caused by us?
Oh, yes, that should have said “Perceived stress, caused by our potentially perceived responsibilities, certainly created by us.”
How can it be that one person’s distress is another person’s joy? How can it be that the same glass is both half-empty and half-full depending on who you ask? How can it be that an overcast day is one person’s blessing and another’s curse? The same events or objects are what they are, but the experience of the events and the interpretation of these objects are largely determined through the perception of the viewer.
How we choose to react or respond to life is our choice, both consciously and unconsciously. The stress we experience around our daily responsibilities is also largely our choice based off the way we “see” things.
Ok, I did say we choose to react or respond consciously and unconsciously. It does seem that conscious reaction would be more choice than unconscious reaction. Unconscious reaction would seem almost reflexive. And if that’s the case, is it really a choice? Well yes, it is if you take ownership and become conscious of your being unconscious. You can become aware of the things you do unconsciously that contribute to how you react to any given situation – those things you do that actually increase your stress levels.
For example, here are some common things most people do unconsciously that greatly affect their stress levels:
- shallow breathing with accessory muscles
- breath holding
- mouth breathing
- staring at a screen of some type throughout the day
- NOT walking with their shoulders
- NOT walking at all
- listening to the daily news
- staying inside and never seeing the sun or getting out in “nature”
- sitting more than 5 hours a day
These unconscious, habitual things above can GREATLY affect how you perceive events because these are things that put your nervous system in “fight or flight” mode. In the sympathetic state (fight or flight mode) most everything can be perceived as a stress. Most people LIVE in this state because their unconscious, habitual lifestyle upholds everything else they do – it paints all they see through the lens of STRESS. And if everything you see is through the lens of stress, you are streeeeeeeesssssseeeeeddddd.
But, if you could become conscious of your unconscious mode of operation and reset it, perhaps you could reset you and reset your world or how you respond to your world’s demands.
You can. And it’s not too terribly difficult. This is all you have to do, every single day:
- Close your lips and breathe through your nose.
- Use your diaphragm and fill your lungs up from the bottom to the top.
- Relax your stomach and allow it to get big.
- To start, set aside two 5-minute periods of deliberate practice. Once in the morning, once at night before bed.
- Go for a 20 minute walk. Every single day. No excuses.
- Swing your arms from your shoulders and match the swing of your hips.
- This ALONE will change your life. It will…
- Protect your mind.
- Turn off the daily dread – I mean news.
- If it is really really important, you’ll find out.
- If it is negative, if it is an angry rant, don’t read it and delete it. It’s toxic.
- Be grateful. On purpose. After all, you get to take your kids to soccer practice. You get to turn in a proposal on Friday. You get to eat dinner with your spouse. You get to pay your bills. You get to. You are blessed with responsibilities.
We all have life issues. We will all experience them as we are able to be and see. If we can give ourselves the best opportunity to “see” clearly by breathing and moving and thinking as we are designed, perhaps we can always see our responsibilities as gifts instead of crushing stressors. I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy.
But what I do know is that if you do those things i just mentioned above, every day, your life will be better and continue to get better with each breath and step you take. You really can reset YOU.