Symptoms of stress can vary from person to person. Every person’s body sends out a different set of red flags. Some common examples of stress body signals are: increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, breathing changes (fast or shallow breathing), stomach and digestive problems, dizziness, sweating, lightheadedness, tremors, fatigue, pain (ex. headaches), tension in various muscles in your body etc.
The body scan is a mindfulness exercise that can help you reduce stress in your body by bringing awareness and identifying parts of the body that hold both physical and emotional stress tension. It increases kind attention and awareness, and acceptance of things as they are. It also helps us practice being in the “being” mode instead of the “doing” mode. Cultivating internal peace not only helps us feel better in our mind and body, but this calmness can help guide our interactions with daily stressors. We can’t always fix a stressor, but we can change our response to it.
Consider trying the body scan meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn to practice mindful awareness of thoughts and body sensations. Notice how this awareness can affect your body, as well as your moment by moment experiences in your daily living.
“Doing mode” is goal-oriented, narrowly focused, “get it done” way of thinking and behaving. It also tries to close the discrepancy between how things are and how we would like them to be. Doing mode involves thinking about the past, present, and future. Doing mode works well for strategizing how to solve problems and achieve goals that we can do, but it doesn’t work well for things that we can’t do or we can’t fix.
“Being mode” is accepting and allowing what is happening without any immediate pressure to change it. There is no goal or desired state to achieve, and there is no problem to solve. Being mode focuses on the present moment and dropping into it and experiencing it as it is, rather than viewing it through past experiences or future predictions. Awareness is focused on the experience of the moment so it can be processed in all of its fullness, rather than comparing moments.
Acceptance of something is allowing it to be as it is, not because you like it or want it that way, but because it is that way …for right now anyway. Letting go of our desire to want things to be different than they are, and making space to allow things to be exactly as they are, can help us struggle less with the moment. Instead of constantly trying to fix or change the moment, we learn to live and even thrive within it.
What are the ways you handle stress and take care of yourself?