REDEFINING YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO STRESS
In this day and age we are constantly bombarded with, and complaining about stress. But is our current stress level really the problem? Sure, it would be nice to quit our jobs, never deal with traffic, and have time for every activity our heart desires, but that is not the reality that we live in. Therefore, instead of attempting to always decrease stress, maybe we should be shifting our focus to how we recover between the stresses. As you read this, jot down a quick list of things you think you do to recover from stress in one, five, fifteen and thirty minutes, and be as creative as possible. Then examine your answers as they relate to the criteria listed below.
THE THREE BODIES
When looking at recovery methods and their effects, try to categorize them into their effect on each of the three bodies; the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual. Don’t be afraid of the word spiritual; this only applies to our sense of connection to others and our environment (for example going for coffee with a friend or going for a walk in nature can be a form of spiritual recovery). We often have a predisposition to favor recovery in one of these three areas, however this can cause problems in the long term. You may also notice that some activities have a positive effect on one body, and a negative effect on others.
RECOVERY METHODS ARE NOT EQUAL
Understand this; sitting down and watching a movie is less recovery than lying down and watching the same movie. Which is less recovery than sitting down and listening to music. Which is less recovery than lying down and listening to music...etc. The wide variety of recovery methods that we have available to us can be categorized not only in relation to the three bodies, but on a spectrum of how strenuous it is for us to do. Don’t be fooled by seated activities such as video games; they can be as stressful for our nervous systems as many physical or emotionally taxing activities, so although we think we are recovering by watching a Rambo marathon we may be missing some of the potential benefits of our day of rest.
DECIDING WHICH RECOVERY METHOD IS RIGHT
This is the most personal aspect of recovery, because different people will respond differently to each method they try. Don’t be afraid to experiment; does a run outside make you feel different from a run on a treadmill? Do you feel different after a yin/recovery yoga class than a power yoga class? Begin to keep a recovery method notebook, and jot down people, places and activities that help you recover. Over time you’ll create a comprehensive list of things you can do to recover, whether you have ten seconds or a ten day vacation, allowing you to better handle the natural stressors in your life.