Monday, July 30, 2012

A Little Shot of Stress

One of my agents came to me today; he was very disturbed by an administrative inefficiency and asked me if I could help him to track the follow up as he found it difficult to cope. I agreed, seeing that he was feeling so flustered and considering he has always been the most hardworking. The stress to perform well is getting into him.

He is not the only one. Stress seems to be the dominant feeling in office these few weeks, so much that some of it actually rubbed on and I find myself listening to recurring ramblings about sales and recruitment in the mind.

While a little bit of stress is probably necessary for tasks to be completed, being overwhelmed by stress consistently is very detrimental to our mental wellness.

Through my practice, I’ve learnt that it is possible for one to live well alongside stress. In order to do this, it is pertinent that we get to know what stress really is and understand how stress is really just a kind of imagination.

To start off, let’s get to the root of it:

Stress is a form of fear.

Stress is the fear that the actual reality presented to us does not align with our mental representation and expectation of how reality should be.

It is not just a mental manifestation of our fears, but also a physical one causing tense muscles, aches, butterflies in our stomachs. This happens when our personal comfort zone is threatened as the mind realizes that a change in activity is required, and the body responds in a fight or flight mode depending on which is the habituated choice.

So, if stress is a form of fear, then knowing what fear really is will enable one to cope with it. If only it is this easy, the work of understanding our fears require lifetimes of wakefulness.

However, for a start, we can learn to recognize this aspect of fear and stress. Fear and stress only live in the mind as elaborate stories.

Just take a moment now and look directly at an issue that is causing stress at this moment. As we look, notice how we imagine that this issue will have an impact on our personal lives, families and friends. Notice also the uncanny tendency that we decide to believe in these stories, when all that is just our imagination. And while this is building up stress mentally and physically, notice how judgment statements are formed and imposed on ourselves or on others.

Just stay silent and notice. Notice that while we are doing this, we can choose to not believe in the stories.