April brings the hopes of spring . . . . and another Stress Awareness Month. I was all ready to write my annual post about the importance of being aware of our stress levels because awareness provides us the power to make changes. Added to the importance of awareness, I was going to share how others handle stress to give you ideas on how to handle your own stress. For instance, Sara Schaer of Kango likes “to make a ‘home spa’ by taking a hot bath with mineral salts.” While Nina Ojeda founder of Prete reminds us “to take the time to walk away from technology.”
But the post fell flat.
If you have been reading my posts for any time now, you are probably sick of awareness reminders and stress hacks. You know them. You have them down. You are using them on a daily basis (I hope). And it could be that the pressure to keep your stress low, is causing you more stress.
Instead of pressuring ourselves to lessen our stress even more this Stress Awareness Month, let’s celebrate our success. Look back at where you were last month, last year, five years ago, and look at how much has changed in how you recognize and manage stress. Don’t look at where you can improve, but celebrate the progress you have made.
Although I have worked on this time and again, I still have very high demands for myself and seek perfection in how I go about life. But the pressure to always be stress-free, to always say the right things, to always be doing the “right” thing, can wear me down. So, this April I hit the pause button on striving to improve and looked back at how far I have come.
Years ago, I has a Type-A, workaholic, task master who felt responsible for everyone and everything. I did not live. My focus was on duty, checklists, and accomplishments. I missed out on life because I was constantly doing. Patience was not a word in my vocabulary. I constantly worried about what could happen and felt compelled to do everything in my power to ensure nothing bad would occur. It is an understatement to say I was stressed from all this pressure.
Today I am much more relaxed. Most days I go with the flow. I trust things will be taken care of. I only do what is really mine to do. I stop and smell the roses. I find compassion and acceptance instead of fault and judgment. And life is better. Without the all-consuming need to fix, I live my life loving what is.
This doesn’t mean that I am in a Zen state every moment of every day. Are there still states of being, ways I act, words I say that can be improved? Absolutely. Have I moved from kindergarten to, dare I say, the graduate school of blissful living? ABSOLUTELY. The goal is not to arrive at your ideal life but to focus on moving toward it each and every day. A new level is always available to strive towards so instead of looking for resolution, celebrate your effort every day.
Take a few minutes and look back at your growth. What struggles have you survived? What challenges have you conquered? How is your experience of life better today than it was yesterday? Share your accomplishments with us so we can celebrate with you.