Using Practices of Presence to Prevent Stress & Remembering that if Stress Shows Up, it can be Managed

Today’s prompt in the “Let’s Blog Along in September” adventure, hosted by Effy Wild, is:

*What really stresses you out, and how do you take care of yourself when you’re in the midst of “waves at all that”.

When I first read the prompt this morning, the song “Stressed Out” by Twenty-One Pilots popped into my mind. Here is a snippet:

We used to play pretend, give each other different names
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away
Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face
Saying, “Wake up, you need to make money”

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out
Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

Daily stress isn’t a part of my life. And hasn’t been for years.

The ‘why’ is that I experienced so much trauma as a child and young adult (and a bit in adulthood), that stayed with me and wreaked havoc in many ways in my life (mainly on my body) that, as I healed, I promised myself I’d live in as much consistent peace as possible.

I want to live as long as I’m gifted time, and I want to thoroughly enjoy that life, and stress – un-managed and unprocessed – becomes a huge barrier to that.

I’ve practiced presence to unfolding as a way of life for almost two decades now. In that, I have complete trust in the process and in natural cycles and seasons.

With much practice, centering most deeply has become my natural and ‘go-to’ reaction. It’s not something I think about or even notice I’m doing, I just do it. The more potential pain external might hold, the more deeply I center.

And, I believe in possibility. With that, a consistent mantra as I move through each day is ‘show me what is possible, beyond what I can see and feel’.

As I wrote in my previous post, I no longer believe in pushing through something; I’m very much about centering, understanding and holding space for unfolding. (Sure, if there is a crisis moment, I move through it, but again, it’s from a super-centered space and my attention is not on what can go wrong, it’s always on ‘show me the possibility’, how I can be love, and taking one step after another to move through it (or support those around me through it if that’s my role).

Peace and joy are important to me, so I cultivate them and allow them to be the energies that guide me.

And, because I work with energy, I’m very much about meeting my base needs, connecting to source energy and weaving in lots of whole-body refreshment in a day. 

Boundaries are ‘my best friends’.

I’m also a single mom, advocating (currently and for the last year) for my teen daughter during a health crisis and offering support to my son as his path continues to unfold, all around my ‘regular life’ (work, creating, taking care of my own health, building and cherishing friendships, household chores, sacred practices, etc). There is lots to do each day, some of which I don’t necessarily love (the logistics of advocating and all that I feel compelled to learn to advocate properly) and I buffer that with rest and doing lots of what I do love.

When it comes to stress, I’ve worked really hard (including inner work and also creating sacred containers of space in each area of my life) on prevention, so that it would be rare. And, that’s important to me, because I can’t be fully present or feel peace and possibility in my life if stress is there as well.

If I am feeling drained or overwhelmed or there is something heavy feeling to process, those are my signs to quickly plug into a practice that centers me, connects me to source and keeps my heart open energetically. From there, I do the inner work to understand what variables are causing irritation (or dissolving peace) and I take whatever steps I need to, to work through that. Then, I do something to balance that energy, an activity or rest or take care of a base need that might have been unintentionally overlooked or something that refreshes my energy. And, I thank myself, as I move through it. I also tend to build in ‘rewards’ for myself in whatever easy and affordable ways I can.

If it’s a crisis sort of thing, I center, assess the variables and do what I can in those moments as far as action steps (finding out info, calling in energetic and physical support) with the intention of stabilizing the energy in the experience. And, if it is a shock to my system, I push pause on everything I can in life so I can sleep, eat, connect to source, and allow my body and psyche to heal. If I can’t push pause, I take care of my base needs as best as I can, speak with compassionate and encouraging words to myself and connect with people and resources that remind me to keep the faith and inspire me to keep on living with intention and as much fullness of presence as possible.

Again, in all of that – crisis or not – boundaries are my best friends. I know what is mine to carry and I know what I have to give and I know what happens energetically, physically and emotionally to me if I consistently give what I don’t have or consistently ignore my base needs or push my body. And, that awareness helps me make the best possible choices (in regards to allowing stress ‘in’ and processing it if it shows up).

If something in the world stresses me out (like horror movies, for example) and I have control over whether or not to be present to it, I won’t be present to it.

If I think something in the future has the potential to stress me out (like my daughter dying, for example), I center and process all of the what-if’s and feelings that flow with those what-if’s, and in that fear dissolves (or at least the power fear has as far as being unsettling dissolves) and peace is restored. I feel into what I’m most afraid of, and how I might best meet that fear if it does take shape. Then, I bless it all. I bring my attention back to this moment and what is in it. And, I do that as much I need to (which is probably an exercise in acceptance).

If something stresses my loved ones, or “the world” out, I care, so I do whatever research I need to, to understand it and I show up to offer support (energetically and physically) in ways that might stretch me, but hold and shift energy in the experience.

What I’ve learned and am continuing to learn about stress for myself is that if it shows up in my life, it’s possible to manage….and, it’s possible to heal whatever effects it’s presence has had on my body, mind, spirit.

Dear Reader: I would love to know your thoughts about stress – as far as how do you know when you’re feeling it, where in your body you hold it (if you’re aware of that) and a practice you might use to manage it.

Much peace and abundant love,

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Comments on: "Using Practices of Presence to Prevent Stress & Remembering that if Stress Shows Up, it can be Managed" (2)

  1. This is a post I might want to read again at stressful times in my life, Joy! You are so amazing at how you process stress and other things not so pleasant!
    I usually talk to myself and God and anyone else I trust and who I know will listen with love and not judgment. I also remember similar situations and how I managed through them (one of the benefits of being old :) I also like to take a walk or do some other form of exercise like gentle yoga, that puts me into my body and out of my brain for awhile. Love to you! <3

    • I’m glad something I’ve shared in this post speaks to you, Jean!

      In general, there is lots of material on how to manage stress – because it’s quite prevalent, and not so much attention on preventing stress (so it’s either minimal or easy to manage when it shows up).

      Thank you for sharing some of your practices – I am sure many of the people who read can relate to them all, and probably do a few as well.

      Love to you!

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