We need to hear something new about stress management as the same issues continue to arise as well as the same stale advice – regurgitated and ineffective. Let’s take a minute to examine a fresh look at stress in three parts.

A. Stress is our best friend – LET’S USE IT!

While by far the number one killer of humanity, stress by design is the most potent life-enhancing resource we have. It is a masterful designer drug activated by fear and anxiety; a chain reaction causes the release of superhuman powers in us, honing every single faculty in our body and mind towards peak performance and enabling us to overcome extreme circumstances. Sadly this life-saving designer drug has, in our modern lives, become the most potent of poisons simply because we don’t use it.

IF THERE’S A NEED TO, USE IT – Stress is a peak performance drug; use it. If you’re stressed for a reason, act upon that reason and put stress to work for you. Your body and mind are geared, aligned and ready to excel for you. Be authentic, be real, be courageous – don’t avoid confrontation, meet it. Stress if put to work will help you become intense, sharp and focussed. Don’t oppress this awesome power – use it. Remember stress is not the problem, stress is the solution. When the solution is not used, it turns into a problem.

IF THERE’S NO NEED TO, USE IT – We’re mostly fearful and anxious for nothing-to-be-stressed-about nonetheless our anxiety activates the stress mechanism which releases copious amounts of survival substances into our minds and bodies to face the lack of extreme circumstances we have to deal with. To our great plight, there is no fight and there is no flight; stress boils our blood causing disease and leading to premature death. We’ve turned our best friend into our worst enemy. Not a unique human quality, stress is common amongst most species with the same purposeful design: to save life in extreme circumstances. Stress however is not known to cause disease or premature death in any other specie but humans.

So if our fears and anxieties are calling stress into action, we must use it. If the situation is not extreme, we’d better make it extreme. We must take responsibility for our anxiety, challenge ourselves to take positive action and burn the stress as per its manufacturing instructions. Physical activity is most aligned with the nature of stress so it is wise to get physical with it – dance, run, play sport and release our stress in a positive manner.

B. Stress is our worst enemy – LET’S LOSE IT!

We’re all aware of the sources of our anxiety – we stress about our kids, our parents, our relationships, our work, our finances. We’re anxious because we hold unmet expectations of ourselves and of those around us. We fear the consequences of problems that keep arising in our lives.

It takes courage to try something new instead of succumbing to habitual reactions. It takes effort to stop and sincerely look inside for a minute and see what’s really going on. We know our own issues, nobody else is better qualified than us to identify our anxiety and the associated mental attachments. Can we be bothered to try something new? We’d rather dismiss or procrastinate and in this way we may expect more of the same. If we can make the effort the process is quite simple and the result can be miraculous. All we have to do is identify the cause of anxiety or fear and mechanically release the mental attachments associated with it, resulting in changed perception which results in changed reality.

Let’s say for example that our anxiety originates through expectations of our kids, spouse, parent, boss or anyone else. Our expectations create mental attachments to desired outcomes and when such outcomes differ, we suffer. Once such a pattern is identified we must let go of our mental attachments even when they feel so impossible to change.

Let’s change them anyway even if we don’t believe it – just to do it mechanically as an experiment. Let’s apply a perception change on relationship with kids. ‘My children are not really mine. I trust they want what’s best for them. I trust they want to have good and successful lives. I respect them and thus accept that they, not I, are responsible for their lives. I am not attached to my expectations of them but rather accept them and their choices. I will always be there to support them with love, care and compassion.’

We can apply such assertions to any circumstance, even if it feels false, we can mechanically insert a new perception into our consciousness. If we have no alternative perception how can we expect anything but the same old familiar default one? It is not what happens that matters but the stories we tell ourselves about what happens.

 

C.   Responsibility means = ABLE TO RESPOND

Circumstances in life are changing all the time; there is no use in trying to control circumstances nor any use in being reactive to circumstances – the best management tool is cultivating perception and action.

Victimhood is a choice, our choice.

Responsibility means – response ability – being able to respond. When we give up our ability to respond we become victims – this is where the choice is made. Remembering responsibility regardless of the circumstances will turn us into powerful beings. We are all born with that ability, though it’s not always encouraged by our cultures to remember and practice it. When taking responsibility, we suddenly have choices; we are able to choose how to respond to circumstances, we become proactive instead of reactive and that makes all the difference in the world to how we feel about ourselves and our lives and how others relate to us. Let’s not forget or give up our responsibility.

Perspective needs to be cultivated. When getting up in the morning to experience immediate absorption into our mundane reality filled with issues and problems, it is very hard to maintain perspective and responsibility. It is so easy to forget the wider perspective – to forget who we are, the core values we are committed to, to place aside our desire for a meaningful and purposeful life. We forget the most important things to us and completely identify with daily issues, work, relationships and problems. If we take the time as we wake up each day to remind ourselves of who we are, to remind ourselves of our true purpose and meaning – we will be calling in our higher perspective and our lives will align with these principles.

 

A PERSONAL NOTE 

Deep in a rainforest in the Byron Shire hinterland behind Mullumbimby, I met a yoga master. Rohm Kest is his name and I’m forever in his debt for his generosity, love and wisdom. I practiced yoga with him for several years before our ways parted. Here are two of his teachings that changed my life forever:

‘Get on the mat Yossi and the rest will take care of itself.’ This taught me about commitment, determination and responsibility. It taught me words and thoughts are not enough; action is needed. It taught me that if I honour my commitment to myself the rest will indeed take care of itself.

‘Lighten up Yossi and have fun.’ This is perhaps the most meaningful advice I’ve ever received. Lightness and fun are the most powerful of choices. Nothing good comes out of heaving darkness and misery. Negative feelings only reinforce negativity. Being positive, light and joyful is not only best for oneself, it is the biggest contribution one can make for the evolution of humanity and the planet.

These choice are ours.