No one likes things that suck, but sadly they are part of our lives. The suckiness of something can range in variety and gravity, but sucks none-the-less.
I know there have been many times in my life where things seemed overwhelming or the crushing sensation of stress and anxiety made it seem like I could never climb out of the hole. In the past. I would have likely handled those feelings by drowning them in retail therapy, alcohol and escapism. I’d like to think I’m a bit more self-aware now, but stress has a way of sneaking up on you.
So what so we do when we encounter a crap fest or, as it’s also known stress.
Typically we try to avoid it in one of four ways.
- Spacing out – we go somewhere else in our heads or we switch off.
- Hold on to it – we don’t allow ourselves to let go of the sucky experience or we wish that we weren’t having a crappy experience at all.
- Wanting it to go away – we want to get rid of the experience or we avoid future events we don’t want to deal with.
- Anger – we emote negative feelings, frustration and avoid future situations.
The reality is, we can’t avoid all the bad things. Eventually, we need to learn how to deal with them in a productive way or else they compound and cause us undue harm. Mindfulness can help us become more aware of our experiences both positive and negative so we can be less reactive and less stressed out.
The father of stress, Hans Selye defined stress as – The body’s nonspecific response to any demand whether caused by or resulting in peasant or unpleasant stimuli.
In nature, the stress response is designed to protect animals (humans included) from danger. It’s called the fight, flight or freeze response. Great for bunnies being chased by foxes, not so good for our hectic lives. The problem is, when we are constantly “under stress” and I don’t mean our lives are being threatened by a bear or an axe-wielding maniac, but the ongoing everyday work, life, kids, health, …whatever cycle. Then these stresses compound on us and our health can suffer.
That’s where mindfulness can help us.
This week, I’ll introduce the 1 Minute Breathing Space or (S.T.O.P).
This handy little acronym can help us when we are starting to spin out of control or really feeling the heat.
S = Stop and pause what you are thinking and doing.
T = Take a breath. Be mindful and take a slow deep breath.
O = Observe or notice what’s actually happening with you. Are you having thoughts or judgments, emotions? Is there tension anywhere? Is your heart beating fast? Are you breathing quickly?
P = Proceed with awareness and kindness towards yourself and others.
Easy? No! Believe me when I say I use this ALL the time!!
This week marks our halfway point and I am curious to know how people are doing. How did the Adverse Events Activity go? What challenges are you finding? What successes have you discovered? What’s getting in the way of practice? Anything else you are noticing?
I’d love to hear how you are finding this!
Before I post this weeks homework, I have a request. – Lung Cancer Canada is looking for B-Raf oncogene positive lung cancer patients who have taken either Tafinlar® (dabrafenib) or Mekinist® (trametinib), or a combination of both to contact them. If possible, I ask you my lovely readers to please share this message through your social media channels. This particular mutation is incredibly rare and we can really use your help reaching patients.
My sincerest thanks.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom -Viktor E. Frankl
- Practice at least six times this week, alternating Mindful Yoga 2 (or mindful walking) with the Sitting Meditation. Try not to expect anything from doing these. In fact, give up all expectations about it. Just let your experience be your experience.
- Everyday: Practice using the 3-Minute Breathing Space, three times or at least once daily at pre-determined time. (I love this one, and use it all the time!) In addition complete the Unpleasant Events Journal.
- Anytime you need it, practice the 1-Minute Breathing Space (STOP).
All other practices are optional. Happy Practice.