– Bing Qian
People are not machines!
I know this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people expect themselves to function like a machine and absorb stressful circumstances, conflict, and even minor irritations without any consequences. Of course, humans are amazing, and we often can function for a long time even if we don’t pay any attention to our mental and physical needs, but over time, stress gets into every area of our lives and affects our sleep, our immune system, our moods, our posture, and our response to challenges. For example, studies show that sleep deprivation can be even more harmful to our ability to function well than alcohol (refer to http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/oem.57.10.649), so imagine what happens to your reactions when you’re tired, as well as stressed.
On the other hand, imagine what happens when we accept that we are people, not robots, and introduce small daily rituals and short breaks into our busy lives. We don’t just become less stressed. We also become more focused, more aligned with the things that really matter to us, and more present. Maybe you’re thinking that you don’t have the time, energy or resources to take a long enough break to recover… and if you do go away you worry about how things are going without you. Well, I’ve got good news! You don’t need to run away from stress to reduce it.
Recently, I’ve been stressed to the max. I had a crazy couple of months with my mum’s health issues and other stuff going on in my life that sapped my energy and enthusiasm. Not surprisingly, I ended up getting this nasty virus which is going around town, and I felt pretty awful.
When I took time to look at everything that was going on around me, I could see why my immune system had given way, and why I was generally feeling frazzled: I had been acting as though I was a machine and could simply absorb anything life threw at me and ignore the clouds of negative energy that enveloped me. Does that sound like woo-woo? Well, have you ever walked into a room, and suddenly felt uncomfortable, or exhausted, when just a few moments earlier you felt fine? Most people have and if they think about it, it is because the emotional energy of people builds up. That’s why it can be hard to walk into a hospital sometimes.
You can’t always run away from negativity, but you can create little energy cleansing rituals that cleanse your personal energy and the energy in your home or workplace. I believe that becoming more conscious of energy, and establishing little energy cleansing rituals and moments of presence act as a pattern interrupt, so that we can show up in the world as the best version of ourselves. Try creating some rituals for yourself – lighting a candle and feeling the brightness and warmth inside you, washing your hands and really feeling the water cleansing you, breathing deeply… becoming aware of the deep silence underneath the layers of noise in your mind. These are all little rituals that can reduce stress, and help you deal with everyday challenges with more courtesy and focus.
Some Further Reading: