Stress and its pervasive effect on health is an all too common problem in society today. A fast paced, high pressured, contemporary life and the increased responsibility this brings, coupled with a perceived inability to cope or handle this lifestyle, is possibly the biggest cause of stress and anxiety. Sadly, self-medication, in the form of drugs, alcohol, sex, work, food and gambling are often used to reduce stress and anxiety, but these things rarely deliver positive, life affirming or lasting results. For the most part, they exacerbate the very situation they are trying to remedy, and to varying degrees, they also produce some significantly harmful side effects. The list is endless. Addictions, weight gain or loss, high blood pressure, mental and emotional health issues are the result, but feelings are at the heart of the problem, and those feelings just want to be felt. Self-sabotage becomes a way of life.
Optimistic people find it’s easy enough to think positive, to be positive or even to feel positive feelings. I feel excited about a holiday, joy at the birth of a child, or eagerness when I think about a new job. The problem is, all feelings, positive and negative, just want to be felt, and like a jack-in-the-box, if I don’t allow myself to feel them, they will keep coming back to be felt. Feelings spring to life, trying to jump out of the box, but this causes trouble if I keep closing the lid on them. Feelings, especially negative feelings, don’t like to be ignored.
I’ve found two simple ways to reduce stress and anxiety levels. One way is to acknowledge whenever I feel uneasy, afraid or stressed about something. This is how my instincts communicate with me. The uneasiness doesn’t disappear, it goes underground instead. Feelings, such as uneasiness, worries and concerns that have been forced underground can be the cause of mental and emotional tremors, earthquakes and volcanoes. They have a tendency to adversely impact my physical health. The second way I like to manage stress and anxiety is to enlist the support of someone wiser or qualified to do so. When I am too fragile, or I am not confident about my ability to feel my feelings on my own, then I prefer to have a medical professional, a good counsellor or wise friend by my side as my witness and confidant.
If I choose to ignore my feelings, then the situations they create in order to be felt tend to grow worse until I get the message to feel them. Whether it’s my intention or not, if a negative situation keeps repeating itself, then I know this is my sub-conscious mind manifesting a situation to help me feel those feelings that I have been denying or avoiding. For example, if I choose to ignore my feelings of pressure or anxiety, I continue to attract the people, events and experiences into my life to make me feel pressured and anxious. I’ve discovered that my sub-conscious thoughts and the situations they manifest, and the feelings I feel because of them, are actually trying to help me to create the life that I want. The solution to this is to feel my feelings. I have to go through the motion of emotion, because feeling is healing.
At the beginning of each day, and even if I need to do so at different moments during the day, I take a few moments to allow myself to feel the feelings that I don’t want to feel. I sit with the anger, pain or frustration. Here’s how I do it:
I breathe in deeply and then with a big breathe out, I release the tension. If I need to, I breathe in and out a few times. To avoid hyperventilating, I like to find my own rhythm instead of rushing into it. This allows my feelings to rise to the surface, instead of pretending that there’s nothing going on underneath. It’s a fast and effective way to dissipate stress. A sense of relief and tranquility is the result.
When I allow myself the time and space to go through the motion of emotions and I sit with the feeling and feel it very deeply, even if it is really uncomfortable, then it starts to evaporate. It helps me to break the cycle of self-sabotage. The same old negative patterns begin to crumble. Eventually they stop repeating themselves. When I make a habit of dissipating my feelings, then I no longer attract the negative situations into my life that make me feel anxious, stressed, pressured or overwhelmed.