“Eustress,” me stressed, we all have some stress as part of the journey of life! Some of it is good for us, as we have discussed; some is challenging in good ways, some not so good. We often create the circumstances that ultimately manifest as stress. Past decisions (or indecisions) may eventually produce unexpected results. Usually coming at very inconvenient times in our lives! In Medicine, we often talk about the “thin gold thread” that connects symptoms, physical and lab findings, and behaviors that, when put together, reveal the diagnostic conundrum we are experiencing with a patient. Our lives are woven together in similar ways. There is no use in driving ahead with too much attention on the rear view mirror. That leads to more of the bad stress. We can, however, identify bad habits, attitudes and unhealthy beliefs that may be happening due to those “founding fathers” of decisions and beliefs from our past. Often, the decision seemed like the right or only choice to make at the time. We had no time machine to foresee the results. This is generally due to lack of information, experience or mentoring. As we go forward in life taking events as they come, we often feel trapped, unable to undo the past and feeling uncertain about the future. A Native American saying: “If you have one foot in yesterday and the other in tomorrow, you pee all over today.”
Our best strategy is to stay grounded in the moment. Get mentoring from some of the successful self-development books—we have mentioned The Slight Edge in earlier posts. When we read to ourselves, it’s like having a conversation with ourselves in an intimate way. No one else is listening. We are often our harshest critic, but we tend to soften the rhetoric when reading a good book that offers ways to improve our lives and skills for success. It does require you to be honest, sometimes brutally honest, about what you need to change. Then, the daunting task can begin. I like The Slight Edge because it confirms the compounding effect of making consistent, small changes and monitoring progress to bring about a larger desired change. It won’t happen overnight, but a lot faster than fits and starts of intensive energy and focus with periods of little or no activity. There may be times of focused, intensive activity but it works best as part of a long-term strategy of the small, consistent changes. This is like running a marathon, with episodes of sprinting as part of the run. They should be focused and planned.
As discussed in our prior post, you can also benefit from mental rehearsal to address eustress and challenging stress. The former is easily identified as good for you while the latter may create more fear or anxiety. Remember the power of consciousness to re-create reality instantaneously as we experience everyday events. It is well equipped to recreate our mental rehearsal, with one caveat. We must construct the plot of the performance in great detail, complete with the emotions that would go with the successful conclusion.
I recommend writing out the event you are rehearsing and its outcome. An outline is fine as long as you can fill in the details of who is present, the scenery or setting and the outcome you desire. Especially spend time generating how that would feel for you. The emotions of success, completion, and resolution are a very powerful aspect of the rehearsal process. Consciousness responds best to emotion and imagery—they are the language of Consciousness and the mind. Think about the vivid nature of dreams. The emotions and images are the most remembered aspects. You awaken with a strong feeling of peace or joy or fear. These are powerful forces when used properly. They will open that interface with the Creator’s presence within for your benefit. It’s what puts you in the “zone.” Consciousness is your personal “laboratory” for creating the circumstances to bring more of what you want into your life, including more successful outcomes with eustress and challenging stress.
The other aspect of the mental rehearsal strategy involves quieting of the mind, often via deep breathing, followed by progressive relaxation. I recommend that you develop a practice of purposeful meditation to relax and to deepen your inner awareness. The language of communication is different at this level of consciousness. The quality of the meditation is proportional to the intensity of belief and frequency of practice. At this level of mind, you can truly build your picture of health and management of stress, whether its eustress or challenging stress. Use meditation time for the mental rehearsal. If your mental rehearsal involves negotiations or relationships that are stressful, be mindful of envisioning an ethical outcome. Your desire must be in accordance with the Golden Rule of treating people as you would want to be treated. Seek always a win-win outcome if your desire involves activity that affects the lives of others. Remember, there is enough to go round.
De-stress, keep the eustress, and read 10 minutes of a self-improvement book every day. We will post our favorites on www.mymindmyhealth.com in “From the Doctors” in the Blog section.