Many of my clients have come to see their stressful way of life as normal, inevitable, unavoidable. They may carry tension in their neck or back, or grapple with stomach issues or chronic headaches. When starting our work together, they say things like,
+ “I don’t have time to relax,” or
+ “I’m not good with all the feelings stuff,” or
+ “I am disconnected from myself; I have no idea what I want.”
There are so many ways to bury frustration, ignore tension, cover up resentment and boredom and rage. And the thing is, if your numbing strategy of choice (maybe it’s overeating, maybe Facebook, maybe drinking or relying on prescription medication) has become automatic enough, you won’t even recognize that you’re using it to get away from something. It will just feel normal.
Meanwhile, the things you do to relieve uncomfortable feelings actually put additional burdens on your body and mind, which makes you need the escape hatch MORE. It’s a vicious cycle. Our body floods with stress hormones, our thoughts and emotions become agitated, we reach for the Xanax (or the smartphone, or the chips) again.
I’ve been reading FULL CATASTROPHE LIVING, a 600+ page book by mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn. I was taking some notes recently on the section on stress reactivity and this really stood out to me:
“It’s very hard to release tension if you won’t even admit that it’s there.”
YES! Without acknowledgement, without a belief that there is another way, you will keep going and going and going until you fall apart. And at some point, your body or your mind — or both — will fall apart. Sorry to go all Doomsday on you, but it just WILL.
So if you’re on the fence, if you’ve been resisting the invitation to get a handle on your stress, if you’ve been so busy saying “I’m fine” that you’ve forgotten what fine actually feels like…consider this a sign that NOW is the time to get some support.
+ Burnout is reversible
+ You can change your relationship to your stress, even if there are elements of it that are beyond your control
+ You deserve to feel calmer and more satisfied with the life you have
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