Types of Stress
Here is a list of some of the most common types of stress and how to deal with them:
Stress From Worry:
(See “Worry” under “Meditation Documents/Handouts” on my website.) Worry can apply to worries about our performance at work, worrying about our children, worrying about our relationships, or worrying about global warming. The primary way to diffuse worry is to stop resisting the negative possibilities you worry about. This is not to say that you want them to happen by any means, but rather you don't resist that they are a possibility. Once you let go of resistance you will immediately feel a sense of relaxation and ease. From there you can take some deep breaths to center yourself and actively accept the negative possibilities no matter how bad they seem. For some situations this may allow you to realize that its not the end of the world, or at least will allow you to come to terms with them. Non-resistance and full acceptance of negative possibilities takes all the power these situations have over you, since it is not merely the situation itself that causes you to feel bad but also your resistance to it. From there the energy you might feel towards approaching something uncertain can potentially become empowering and not crippling.
Stress From Dissonant Relationships:
We all get into conflicts, make mistakes, or don't see eye to eye sometimes with the people in our lives, but it is how we approach dealing with the conflict that will determine wether or not it becomes stressful. Of all the ways we can approach our relationships, love is the way to make harmony. Through having love and compassion for the other person we are motivated to have patience, tolerance, appreciation, good listening, good communication, and understanding. This means that in turn we let go of negative states of mind like attachment, anger, frustration, selfishness, unwholesome competition, jealousy, and pride. Using mindfulness as a regular practice of presence to our mind we may notice whenever we slip into any one of these states of mind and do something about it (See “The Method for Transforming Negative States of Mind”). There are certain instances where out of compassion for ourselves and our safety we should remove ourselves from relating with certain people, where the relationship supports addictions or are abusive, or otherwise. We can do everything we can to seek out help for those people in our lives but also keeping our safety a priority is appropriate.
Stress From Un-Enjoyed Effort:
I'm sure we all have had to do something that we didn't want to do at the time. Sometimes we knew we had to do it anyway because it served a purpose. Sometimes, however we can get caught in applying effort to something that doesn't serve what we're interested in. When I was in school I felt this a lot because the majority of the topics I studied were not what I was interested in, and I knew this so much that it caused me undue stress. Other people, for example who take up occupations for the sake of making money but have no heartfelt interest in what they're doing suffer every day, being a slave to the dollar, until they finally say “enough is enough” and choose a new career that they truly love. Having to apply effort that you don't enjoy can cause stress because we physically and mentally invest ourselves in the work we do while simultaneously find ourself emotionally uninvested. This contrast and conflict within causes us to feel disconnected and disassociated from the work we do. Two solutions arise for this situation: change the way you see the work or change your work. Changing your perspective on the work by seeing maybe if it serves a greater purpose you can believe in is a way to get engaged in what you do. Otherwise, finding a new job or line of study is the way to go. Doing what you love is the best way to live your life and work happily.
Stress from Excessive Effort:
Make sure you have a balanced work ethic and don't push yourself too hard. Take your work only one step at a time giving it your full attention in the moment. Beware of becoming a workaholic that de-prioritizes things that are important in life like spending time with family. Also make sure there are regulations in place in your work that don't make you work too many hours or work too aggressively in unsafe conditions. These kinds of stress from excessive effort over time can lead to exhaustion, disease, or injury.
Stress from Illness or Injury:
When we get ill or injured our body is undergoing a lot of stress and therefore our mind is as well. Meditation is scientifically proven to help the immune system, reduce inflammation, and reduce pain including chronic pain. Use the guided meditation located under “Guided Meditation Audio” on the website to help deal with the stress of illness or injury. Also learn how to convert your suffering into a catalyst for great compassion for others (“Suffering as a Basis of Compassion”). In that practice you learn how to use the pain to amplify your wish for others to be free from similar suffering thereby growing your compassion. This practice also reduces the pain.