Help for times of continuous pressure and stress.
When was the last time you barely had a moment to think? When life propelled you obliviously forward through the day from the moment your feet touched the floor in the morning till your head hit the pillow at night?
Remember to be a human being and not a human doing.
At such a time, someone told me to remember that I’m a human being not a human doing. That statement irritated me no end. What I was wanting from them was recognition that I was Superwoman in disguise and being totally brilliant! Since then I’ve recognized the wisdom of their words.
Stop, be in the moment and observe whether you are being or doing.
Recently, I found myself in a flurry and rush of activity from dawn to dusk. This time, however, I was aware of the role that stress was playing. While running on automatic pilot, every now and again I forced myself to stop, to be in the moment and observe how I was coping – being or doing.
Stress can affect appetite.
Surprisingly, I realized that I missed most meals. I simply wasn’t hungry and didn’t bother to eat unless I made a conscious effort to do so. That was the stress response at play, making sure my energy wasn’t taken up by digesting food.
Stress can affect sleep.
I found I slept very lightly (the slightest sound woke me) and I was unable to sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time. While I was asleep my mind was replaying the day before or else running through the day ahead. I woke every morning feeling completely exhausted. The light sleep was the stress response ensuring that I would be aware of oncoming danger.
Stress can affect body temperature.
I felt unusually cold most of the time, in spite of moving about a lot, wearing more than adequate layers of clothing and having the heating on high. This was the result of the stress response taking the blood from hands and feet to my muscles so that I could sprint away from danger in an instant.
Stress can affect sensory sensitivity.
Lastly, I found that I was hyper-sensitive. The slightest sound made me jump. Again, the stress response heightens sensory awareness to be able to escape danger.
Finding a calm state in the midst of rush and pressure.
Because my energy was super-charged, I found that I couldn’t reach a calm state by meditating. In fact when I tried to meditate I was either on edge and couldn’t relax, or else I fell asleep sitting up. In the end, I followed my Be Here Now Exercise that befriends and plays with the mind and allows it to relax gradually. Here it is:
Be Here Now Exercise
- Sit comfortably
- Breathe gently and rhythmically
- Keep still – head, body, legs, arms
- Keep head absolutely still, and let eyes rest on one spot at eye level ahead
- Without moving eyes from the spot, notice 3 things that you can see in direct and peripheral vision
- Notice 3 sounds that you can hear
- Notice 3 feelings (clothes on your skin, heat etc.)
- Notice any taste you might have in your mouth
- Notice anything you can smell
You can repeat this exercise slowly and gently (looking for different sights, sounds etc. each time) until you feel calm.
Or you can close your eyes and imagine that you can see 3 things
Notice or imagine 3 sounds you can hear
Notice or imagine 3 feelings
Notice or imagine a taste in your mouth
Notice or imagine a smell you love.
If you repeat this exercise make sure you imagine different sounds etc. with each repetition.
I found this exercise to be really helpful over the last couple of weeks. In busy moments it can be more directive and calming than simply breathing while my mind whirrs around. It provided a much needed gentle mental break and returned me from doing to being. You may like to try it. It’s simple and it works!