We’ve all heard it – stress is a killer, the enemy, the bad guy. Stress has been linked to high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and some types of cancer.
Even young kids are now being diagnosed with high levels of stress. That can’t be good, right??
It’s clear then. Stress is bad.
Or is it?
Try this. Picture a time when you felt stressed. Remember how your heart beat faster. You felt the adrenaline pumping. Your muscles tightened as though you were getting ready for action. You began breathing more rapidly. If it continued, you probably started breathing more shallowly or even holding your breath. And you felt smaller inside. You probably had fears come up, too.
Okay, take a deep breath. And another one.
Now, picture a time when you were really, really excited. Remember how your heart beat faster. How you felt the adrenaline pumping. How your muscles tightened as though you were about to leap for joy. How you started breathing more rapidly. Notice how you felt like you were getting bigger.
There are a lot of similarities — increased heart rate, tight muscles and more rapid breathing.
There are also some differences.
- With prolonged stress, you tend to breath more shallowly or even hold your breath. With excitement, you tend to breath more rapidly and deeply.
- In one you feel yourself shrinking. In the other, you’re expanding.
- One has been labeled good, the other, bad.
The reason excitement has been labeled good is that we’re going toward something we’re choosing. We’re running toward it, embracing it. It’s something new, a change we want. Or it’s something familiar that we love, that feels good.
When we feel stressed, on the other hand, we’re feeling uncomfortable. We’re not sure we want to do this. It does not feel fun!
But what if stress is simply a natural part of life? What if it’s just a signal that we’re about to do something new? Step into a bigger vision of ourselves. What if it’s simply the friction of where we’re going to be soon rubbing up against where we are now?
When you run your own business, you’re always doing new things. Over and over you’re being called to step into a bigger vision of yourself. Sometimes it’s a little step. Sometimes it’s a big leap.
This means that, time and again, you experience stress. And you dream about closing your business, selling everything, and going to live on a beach where you’ll never be stressed again.
The only problem with that dream, though, is that you can’t get away from stress forever.
So the question isn’t how to avoid stress, but how to respond to it.
Let’s look at the typical responses to feeling stressed:
- We distract ourselves. We get on Facebook or a computer game. We drink alcohol or eat sugar. We watch movies. We do something – anything – to get us away from our uncomfortable thoughts and feeling.
- We tell stories – and stick to them! Stories about how this isn’t right or fair. How it shouldn’t be this way. How we’ll never get done what we need to do. And so on.
- We go into fear.
- I’m not good enough, smart enough, talented enough to do this.
- Something bad will happen that I won’t be able to handle.
- I’ll look like an idiot and I’ll lose my clients, my peers, my place.
Take a deep breath.
Remember that we said when you feel stressed you get smaller inside? That’s actually not a sign of stress but a sign of fear.
Fear is about contraction.
Love and acceptance are about expansion.
What if you could embrace stress? What if you chose to expand into acceptance rather than contract into fear?
Think of F.E.A.R.S. as an acronym –
Feel whatever feelings you’re having – fear, nervousness, worry. Really experience them. I don’t mean wallow in them and stay stuck in them. Don’t tell your story about them or yourself. Just simply allow yourself to be with them.
Exhale fully. This is the key to breathing deeply. So for a few breaths, simply pay attention to your exhalations. Be gentle with yourself. Exhale and inhale.
Accept the situation and everything that you’re experiencing. When we don’t accept it, we add on a whole other layer of gunk. It’s okay that you feel tense and scared. It’s okay if part of you wants to run away. It’s okay to be scared and write that email. To be nervous and send your newsletter.
Realign with your intention to expand, with your knowledge that you’re big enough to hold all of this. Try saying to yourself, “I’m this big and more. I can do this and more.”
Smile. Smile at yourself. Smile at the way you’re feeling. Smile at what’s on your to-do list. Give it a big, goofy grin.
There’s a lot more to this that I do with my clients to energetically release fears when they come up. Doing this means that there’s less to come up next time. It also makes these moments of stress true opportunities for healing and raising your clarity and vibration.
Still, doing this process will help you begin to deal with stress in a healthy way and start to lower your overall tension levels. And that can help you be happier and more productive – a winning combination.