Updated: Apr 17
I don't believe I've met anyone who at one point in their life has not experienced stress. It can show up and be experienced in different ways and if you're aware enough you may be able to feel it in a certain part of your body.
Here's the interesting science stuff
When faced with a stressful situation, the human body responds with the fight-or-flight response. The sympathetic nervous system reacts, resulting in symptoms such as a racing heart beat and increased sweating. After the stress goes away, the parasympathetic nervous system activates, returning the body to normal. Certain events cause high levels of stress in people, such as major life changes.
There are four common places stress comes up for most people that you need to be aware of.
Work: A person's job can be a source of stress, especially because of the amount of time spent there each week. Evidence states that an overwhelming workload or a difficult boss can increase the level of stress. If a person does not like her job, has a long commute or has altercations with her co-workers, she can experience even more stress. Apparently getting fired from a job is the eighth most stressful life event.
Relationships: Strained relationships can add stress to a person's life. Divorce is the second most stressful life event on the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory, followed by marriage separation. Abusive relationships can add even more stress. However, positive relationships can result in stress as well. Marriage is the seventh most stressful life event on the Holmes-Rahe list, and marriage recollection is the ninth.
Life Changes: Certain major changes in a patient's life can cause large amount of stress. Note that both positive life changes, such as a pregnancy, and negative life changes, such as the death of a loved one, can result in stress. The death of a spouse is the most stressful life event on the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory, and the death of a close relative is the fifth. While a positive event for many people, retirement is considered the tenth most stressful event.
Some environmental factors can cause or add to a person's life of stress. Two environmental factors, noise and excessive light, can induce stress. These environmental stressors can be worse if they are not controllable.
Self-Generated: Stress also can be caused by a person's inner thinking. For example, unrealistic expectations and perfectionism can make events in which a person did not realize his ideals even more stressful. Pessimism and negative self-talk also can cause stress
So, with all this stress around – what can you do to keep calm and positive when everything is working against you? Try mindfulness practice
Mindfulness is a very effective tool for creating inner peace and balance. Mindfulness calls us to live in the present moment, which is the only moment we have. It is a form of non-judgmental, relaxed awareness.
When we are mindful, we are purposely paying attention to the current moment, from our emotions to our environment. Through mindfulness, we learn to allow things to simply be, rather than trying to control, resist, or fix everything around us.
Here are few key elements to cultivating mindfulness in your life.
1) Learn to observe rather than judge.
Most of us operate from a place of worry, anxiety, and judgment of ourselves and others. This state of mind is preventing us from accepting, receiving and enjoying life. Observing or witnessing teaches us to relax, accept, and drop judgment. As a result, our state of being sifts to a more peaceful one.
2) Notice your “reptilian brain.”
Our reptilian brain is part of our defensive self. It is relentlessly commenting on everything we come in contact with. It pushes us to file things in drawers according to categories. We have the “good” drawers and “bad” drawers in our minds. There, we collect our likes and dislikes.
As we go through life, we are constantly bouncing between rejection and attachment, jumping from the future to the past and back again. This reactive way of being does not allow for observation, awareness and peace.
It is most important to begin to observe this kind of obsessive and compulsive thinking. If you are a meditator, you know how hard it is to relax the reptilian brain element. It takes practice. But the first step is to notice it and identify the action and impact of it. As your mindfulness practice grow, you can learn to slow and relax your mind.
3) Learn a healthy detachment from the inner drama.
The twin of the reptilian brain is emotional drama. Emotional drama is the inner turmoil of contradicting, conflicting, and painful emotions that swirl around and torment us. This can happen in relation to a past or present event. Most of the time, emotional drama touches on pool of unresolved emotional experiences of the past.