July 2, 2008

Things have been crazy lately, and it is getting crazier. We are rushed. We are stressed. We are feeling pinched in everything we do and want to do. The cause? Well, there are many causes, the most predominate right now being the price of gas. But that is only a part of things.

We live in a society where computers have made things easier, yet made them more hectic at the same time. We can do more things, and get information much faster than ever before. But with that speed comes the need to react at the same speed. Because information changes quickly, we have to change to process that and follow the new trends. Businesses need to be able to change directions in a flash to stay in business. And we need to be able to react at warp speed to stay employed. The rich seem to be getting richer, and the poor and middle class poorer.

The cost of everything is going up causing our hard earned income to seem smaller. With the price of gas going up a couple pennies every day causing the price of everything else to go up (because of the increased transportation costs), we are feeling very stressed. This stress is leading to anger. This anger may start at the gas pump, but it follows wherever we go. It makes us angry at the person that cuts in front of us on the road. It makes us angry at the boss when he wants us to spend more time at work for the same pay. It is getting to the point that an explosion is immanent.

Before that happens, we need to take a step back and breathe. We need to calm and let things pass without letting the emotion of anger creep its way into things. We need to do this for our health and for the health of others, because anger as emotion, as energy keeps going and getting stronger. We need to let it dissipate before it reaches critical mass.

But how does one stay calm in this stressful environment? Well, before you read on, take a couple deep breaths. Feel the calmness rush in and the stress be expelled. That was easy. Now you’re ready to proceed.

Once one feels anger, one needs to dispel it as fast as they can. Sometimes it means stepping away from a conversation (or argument). Sometimes it means taking a step back and counting to 10 (and I mean counting to 10, not down from 10). Sometimes it can be done simply by taking a deep calming breath which in a way is a form of meditation. You are breathing in calmness and releasing anger.

Meditation itself is a nice form of calming when you make the time to do it. You sit in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed (yes, it can be that room if it has to) and let your self calm. See yourself bringing calming energy into your body and releasing stress and anger. Just doing this a few minutes a day can do wonders.

Another type of meditation is guided meditation where a voice on a tape or CD leads one through a calming journey to a place of rest and relaxation. Once one has done this a few times (being guided), they can simply put on relaxing music and take themselves on that same journey, or a different one depending on their preferences. Taking a few minutes a day and spending it in your own personal sanctuary away from the stresses and problems will give one a better outlook on life and be able to deal with things more calmly.

It is also possible to do a moving meditation. This is where you walk, or exercise, or do some physical activity where you can turn your mind off for a while and not think about the problems in your life. One can even do this while gardening or mowing the lawn. Even if you can’t walk on the beach, you can move, and while you move, let your movement create a pattern in itself that can be calming to you.

Exercise by itself is a good thing if you have time for it. By doing this, you force the stress out through your movements. It will also leave you feeling calmer and better prepared to deal with today’s stresses.

One other method is to write up some affirmations. These are phrases that are written and read daily. They can be things you want yourself to be, or things you already believe in yourself. They could be simple statements of acceptance like, “I love and approve of myself exactly as I am”, or “I learn from every experience in my life” or “I am loved”. Or they can be ones of growth like, “I can stay calm no matter what problems I face” or “I accept the challenges of life and handle them with skill and confidence” or “In order to transform others, I must first transform myself”. They can even be specific like “The force will be with me, always”. By reading these daily, one starts believing in them all and actually convinces oneself that they are true. And this is a form of meditation as well.

There are many methods of de-stressing to choose from. Exercise can be done anywhere, and can be from jogging, to working out in a gym, or simply walking around the neighborhood. To do meditation, one can purchase tapes and CDs that follow the path one wants to follow, or it can simply be sitting and listening to silence or calming music. Meditation can also be taught, and there are many places that do that.

Find what works for you and use it. It will be good for your health and the health of others. And by all means, let’s all step back and take a breath.