I want to revisit the subject of stress management from time to time. Let’s consider some of the possible stressors that visit us - often on a regular basis. The job and one’s need to make a living probably tops the list - followed by the stresses of family life with all its attendant problems. Concurrent with this, one has to include money and finances. It’s often a challenge worth of a tightrope walker to balance the three and keep one’s sanity. Time management and prioritizing is essential so that one can devote attention to each of these components. Don't just while away the time in front of our computer screens without a plan.
Many also have become stressed by our present political environment and what we perceive are the wrongs of the world. Perhaps it’s time to take a break from reading newspapers from front to back page. Stay aware of what is happening in the world but don't take total responsibility for the problem.
This then leads us to the question, what do we do to handle stress. If one were to come up with an all-encompassing answer it would be the need to generate change in one’s life. Do something different from the usual daily activities.
The obvious one is to take holidays - something not always possible if you are stretched financially. If that’s the case, then take a virtual holiday. Take time out to meditate or take a walk. It’s remarkable how rejuvenating can be taking a couple of hours out for a saunter. It can even help resolve some of the very problems that we are facing and provide an answer. It’s as if we are stepping back from your own personal involvement and become a bystander. It gives one objectivity. I walk on a regular basis with a walking group and have discovered the wonders and beauty of the Don Valley here in Toronto. I come back from these activities raring to go and ready to tackle the problems of the world.
Here’s the essential ingredient in these activities: focus on being truly present. If your mind wanders to office related problems or to the latest family disaster, then gently guide it back to the present. Breathe in, breathe out. If you are truly in the present moment, then you cannot be in the past where tales of misfortune dominated or in the future where potential problems lurk.
Try to make everything you do into a meditation. This is often easier said than done. A resource in Toronto is https://torontomindfulnesscommunity.org/ This is run by Theodore Tsaousidis, owner of the Snow Lion book and meditation supply store on Pape Avenue at Danforth. He is highly knowledgeable and very approachable. Go and see him and tell him that I sent you. His store is an oasis of calm in a frenetically busy city.
I would love to say that I am immune from the stresses of the world, but that is not the case. What has worked well for me is being a member of a health club and doing regular exercise. If the physical body is in shape then the mind can follow. I also attend regular yoga classes. What I have realized comparatively recently is that when there are difficult poses to hold, I tend to breathe improperly. That can also translate into how we deal with the emotions of the day. All that holding the breath does is deprive you of your rightful share of oxygen. Proper breathing helps give you life-giving energy that supports muscular function and flush the body of C02.
Another thing that I have done is take up voice lessons. Does that mean that I am in the throws of changing career to become the next Michael Bublé? I don't think so. However, while engaged in such activities, I am fully engaged in the process and taking a break from the immediacy of other life problems. Even the writing of this blog posting for me is an activity that I enjoy that takes me outside the realm of my daily activities. Both of these, I realize, also serves to help me find a “voice.” One of these has morphed into my published eBook “My Camino Walk - A Way to Healing,” my personal story, set against the backdrop of walking the Camino, of coming to terms with my history.
Part of successful stress management is having the right nutrition and getting enough sleep. More on that in a future posting. I also want to talk in future postings about finding one’s passion. Meanwhile, enjoy the Spring and new beginnings.
I almost forgot to mention very successful ways of dealing with stress is to go for a regular massage or shiatsu therapy treatment. That helps reconnect you with your body. I'm back from walking the Camino, so please phone me to set up your next appointment. I hope to see you soon.