I was talking to my friend on the phone this morning. She was telling me about her boyfriend. He has one of those jobs where he’s on for three days, and then off for two. It’s great when their days off overlap, but sometimes it can be stressful. It helps that she has studied yoga for a while, and knows several techniques to help her relax when she is stressed out. She tells me there are several different types kinds of yoga, with different intentions. Some are for physical health, others are for spiritual rejuvenation, others are for overall stress reduction.
I think that stress is an under looked at problem in today’s society. Everybody has stress. The problem with stress, is that it goes undetected. It’s a quirk of the human system, either by evolution or some kind of omnipotent creator, that low level pain often gets put into the background of the mind. Acute pain is one of the few outside stimuli that can not be ignored, for obvious reasons. But mental or physical stress, unfortunately is one of those things that can too easily get ignored.
According to doctors and researchers, the biggest problem regarding stress is people that are under unhealthy levels of stress don’t even know it. They go through life, doing the same thing day after day, and not realizing how many problems the stress is causing them because they think its part of their normal life. They have carried the same amount of stress for so long, that it can even become part of who they are. Some can even feel uncomfortable when the stress is removed, because they have identified with it on such a deep level.
I was with a friend of mine on a bike rideÂ a few years ago. His bike was broken, so he borrowed one from another friend. It hadn’t been ridden for a while, but since it seemed to be ok, neither of us gave it any second thought. After a few miles into the ride, my friend began to feel unusually tired. He’s in pretty good shape, so we wondered what the problem might be. Diet? Nope. Not enough sleep? Nope. Girlfriend troubles? Nope. As much as we tried, we couldn’t think of a solution, so we just accepted the fact that he was performing under par that day, and adjusted our speed accordingly. It wasn’t until after we’d completed the ride that we discovered the problem. The rear brake on his bike wasn’t releasing completely when he’d finished breaking. It was causing a slight drag on the bike, making him work just a little bit harder. Instead of a nice relaxing enjoyable ride, we went slow because we just accepted that we had to go slow.
The secret to reducing stress is to find the brakes that are holding you back, and release them. Unfortunately, in today’s society, the most popular solution to stress is to cover up the feeling. Alcohol, drugs. Even if you go to the doctor, you’re likely to get a prescription for drugs to mask the effect, and not address the cause.
The first step in reducing stress is taking an honest look at your life to discover what it is that is causing the stress. Work, family, money, all these can be sources of stress. The biggest cause, however, is worrying about things that you can’t control. Once you realize exactly where the line is between that which you can control, and that which you can’t, you’re on the right track. If you take little steps in the direction of the things that you can control, and release the things that you can’t, you’re well on the way to significantly reducing the amount of stress, and all the accompanying problems.