“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 Frankl, holocaust survivor and psychiatrist
This second chapter explained a lot about the connection between our thoughts and emotions and our physical processes. Our hardwired response is fight, flight, or freeze. Unfortunately these reactions are not always for the best. Sometimes we perceive danger in a situation even though there is not an immediate threat (kind of like worrying about ’what if’). When this becomes our automatic response it makes the stress just build on top of itself.
Stress reactions are driven by unconscious habits that suppress our ability to identify what is going on inside of us. However, stress responses involve acknowledging our emotions and intentions and working with them. Responding instead of reacting to stress is much healthier for us.
Practicing awareness can transform the brain so that it detects and understands your emotions and the emotions of others at a deeper level then ever before. The brain can change itself; it can learn to function differently and in a better way.
My formal practice this week is still to take a three minute check-in with myself daily. My informal practice is to weave awareness into my day; to clear my head and completely focus on each thing and pay attention to my responses to it. That would include the mindful eating practice which I haven’t done very well at considering I am always at least a little bit distracted at meal times.
The chapter ended with an exercise. It asked me to write down how certain aspects of life are affecting me so that I can see how much stress is woven into my life. Stress with people, work, the world, food and eating, sleep, and finally exercise. The words frustration and irritation were used often in my answers.
It is almost overwhelming how much stress we can have in our lives. That fact alone can bring on more stress but here is a good moment to practice responding instead of reacting. Just need to remind myself that I can’t control the outcome of everything – that worrying about what might happen is a waste of time. I simply need to be in the here and now and deal with the rest when it comes.
- Stress Management Chapter 1 (amommys2cents.wordpress.com)