Sunday, October 25, 2009

Relieving Stress

In the last week, I had two dialogues related to the subject of tension and stress. In both cases the explorer judged had judged the situation he or she was in as being bad. Their judgments had brought them to a place of unhappiness.  The specific unhappiness had been tension and stress.

What is stress?

Stress is an emotional and behavioral response to a combination of beliefs and subsequent action or inaction. Stress shows up when we face a challenging situation that results in our bodies releasing adrenaline, but then fail to act. Our bodies release adrenaline to support either fight or flight types of responses to perceived danger; our bodies expects to react immediately and intensely when the adrenaline is released.  When we don't act and provide a way for our bodies to consume the adrenaline builds up causing stress.

Doing some online research, there seem to be lots of different explanations as to how and why this happens, but all seem to indicate that the stress is a result of our failure to act. 

There seem to be two versions of stress:

  •  Stress created in the moment: a huge explosion of emotion and adrenaline as an immediate response to a challenging or threatening situation.
  •  Stress built over time: a long-term build-up of unhappiness fueling beliefs that are not questioned or challenged.

Stress in the Moment

When our body responds to an immediate challenge with a build up of adrenaline and we fail to act with a fight or flight response because we believe the situation is hopeless, then we panic.

What is Panic?
Asklog describes panic in the following way (check out their article, lots of informative stuff): 
Panic ensues when we: are unable to formulate an effective evasive action; we choose the wrong evasive action; the evasive action is ineffective; or, the evasive action goes terribly wrong in ways we do not understand.

Basically, if we come to the point that we believe there's no hope of succeeding, we either panic or we give up.  Note that our panic or surrendering has nothing to do with the situation actually being hopeless.  It has only to do with our beliefs about the situation being hopeless.  We can actually panic before we've even evaluated the situation or tried anything at all.

If we see our panic or stress as response to our beliefs about the situation and not about the situation itself, then we have a lot of options open to us.  So, the best thing to do is to first recognize that we're dealing with a belief-based challenge, not a situation-based challenge.  Then we want to challenge our beliefs (and if needed as was the case with one of my dialogues, ask for help).

Long-term Stress

Because long-term stress grows bit by bit, people often see it simply as part of life and they often do not question it or the unhappy beliefs that cause it. Over time, people carry more and more stress.  The stress affects everything from their attitude and manner to their health and relationships.  Yet, when you ask them how they're doing, they will probably say they're fine.

As is the case with short-term stress, long-term stress is not based on situations, but our belief about the situations.  Like short-term stress, it is based on a sense of hopelessness and can be dealt with by investigating the beliefs that cause us to become hopeless and inactive in regard to the situation.

The first step in dealing with long-term stress is to recognize it as such.  See the places in your life where you have discomfort or tension.

The next step is to see what drives the stress.  Are there situations in which you feel more at ease and less at ease. 

Once you identify the situations, then it's time to look at your beliefs around them.  By looking at your beliefs you can bring yourself to a point of action.  It may mean changing the situation.  It may simply mean changing your beliefs.  In either case, you can eliminate the stress.

Denial, although an option, isn't a great one!

Below I attach an email I received yesterday, which shows how wonderful it is when you allow yourself  to let go of stress.

Hi Iris!!

Wow!  The outreach was amazing.  I am so grateful YOU were there for me in my attitude emergency!  I was able to make such a drastic, complete change in my attitude so fast.  I went from being upset and "feeling not at my best" to feeling excited in a matter of moments.  I felt better than ever more and more through out the day - I was proud of myself for making the choices that I made.  Your loving questions helped me see through my fears, frustrations and disappointments regarding the situation I was in. 



  1. Way cool....Whenever the word/idea of stress comes up conversationally for me, I'm reminded of a notion that fits well for me.....Stress, (usually described as having a less than desired effect) is just another word for "fear"

  2. Hey BW, I can see a relationship between stress and fear, but I think it is an indirect one. If we're fearful and act, then I think we avoid being both stressful and fearful. However, it's when we're fearful and don't act that we pile stress on top of fear.

    For example, if we see a mole that we don't like the color of, we might go see the doctor. We might be fearful, but by taking action, we relieve some stress.

    If on the other hand, we observe the mole and keep putting off action, then we probably add stress to the emotional heap.

  3. yesum....its as if one either respond,acceptingly that one can only do their best, or to be upset, stressed, worried, as in choosing to believe perhaps that they are not doing the best they can.


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