Stress is normal. Just like hunger or being thirsty, it is normal to be stressed at times. When we feel hunger coming on, we eat. We make an event out of eating. We gather the family together, say a prayer and dive into the meal. During the meal, we have good conversations and laughter. Then we are satisfied, we either order a take-out box or we clean up after ourselves. Not everyone is fortunate to have this experience as some truly have to live with their hunger wondering where the next meal will come from? They don’t have the financial security to ensure that something as normal as eating a meal is guaranteed.
When we feel thirsty, we grab a drink, preferably water. It is in those moments of quenching our thirst that water feels heavenly. Not everyone is fortunate to have readily access to water. For those people, survival becomes a daily challenge. But have you ever tried drinking water when you are not thirsty? Have you ever tried eating your favorite meal when you are not hungry? I can tell you, it is not the best thing to experience. It feels torturous.
I’ve used hunger and thirst in this article as illustrations for the basics of life, but what does it have to do with stress? Like hunger, and thirst, stress is brought on by lack or a diminish in the flow of oxygen. Just as when we are hungry, we eat, when we are stressed, we should breathe. I am not talking about going about our normal business of unconscious breathing, I am talking about making an event out of breathing. Picture yourself lying on a hospital bed hooked up to an oxygen chamber with induced breathing. It is not that dramatic, but it drives the idea that our focus should be totally on our breathing to restore our body to a diminished stress level. Awareness is the key to take action on stress and stress is not shy about revealing itself. We literally can feel emotional pain when we breathe.
Just as we make time to eat and drink, we should make time to breathe. In the song “Rat Race,” Bob Marley sings, “In the abundance of water, a fool is thirsty.” If we were to replace those lyrics to reference breathing, it will read, “In the abundance of oxygen, a fool is stressed out.”
Stress is normal. It is a way of the body communicating the affect of our thoughts and actions. If we are working too much, stress builds up. If we are having too much of a fun activity, stress builds up. Stress reminds us of the need for balance. When stress comes on, we need to take a break from what we are doing and focus on our breathing. We can do fun stuff with our breathing. We can hold our breath and feel it soothing our emotions and then let it out. We can repeat the process until we feel our stress level reduced. We can stretch in the process or we can exercise. Whatever, means we use to tackle stress, we can make it enjoyable and meaningful. We can repeat the process as long as is necessary to bring it under control.
Many of us were brought up to feel guilty about our stress. I will tell you that there is no need for guilt as stress is a normal indicator for the present quality of our life experience. Make time to attend to your stress and make it enjoyable in the process, because stress is normal.
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