What kind of approach do you take when it comes to stress in your
Modern life comes with a lot more complexity, including a faster
rate of change and a more intertwined social and economic fabric
across the globe.
Not to mention, people feel like they are working harder and doing
more, with fewer resources. And this is no longer the exception. It
has become the standard in the corporate world.
Yes, increased complexity and demands can cause you to feel out of
control and even powerless when it comes to certain areas of your
But I don’t think it has to be that way.
For one thing, you can take a look at your perception of these
changes and demands in your life.
You can also consider how you respond to them.
When you take a step back, are the things that you find most
stressful really such a huge deal in the big scheme of things?
And even for the stuff that is or seems important, are you reacting
too negatively to it? Versus seeing it as a game, and responding
to the challenge.
When it comes to what really matters in life, one of the most
helpful things you can do is to look at the big picture.
First, take a step back. Literally. Give yourself a little time
and space to think about this, and tap into your inner wisdom and
Take a minute or so to focus on your breathing. Gradually lengthen
the cycles of your breathing. Calm down. Chill for a moment.
Notice how your feelings change, and how the built up tension in
your body begins to dissipate.
One of the side benefits to breathing consciously, in this way,
is that it forces you to “be in the moment”, at least for a few
minutes or so.
You stop thinking about what happened in the past, and you stop
fretting about what may happen in the future, or what you need to
get done by x hour or date.
You simply are.
Now, introduce into this the “Big Picture”. What is the big
picture of your life? What truly matters?
For an unfortunate, nevertheless inspiring, example of doing just
this, consider the people here in Central Texas who have had to
flee from their homes because of the crazy wildfires we have been
As I noted in yesterday’s tip, over 1,600 homes have been destroyed
in our area. Thousands of families have been displaced. Most have
Despite this calamity, to a person, the people who have been
interviewed by news crews – even those who had been notified that
their homes had been lost – expressed tremendous gratitude that they
and their families had made it out without harm.
And they also expressed appreciation for the firefighters and other
first responders who have been valiantly battling the blazes.
Talk about focusing on the big picture.
At this moment, in the midst of their own personal and family
tragedy, the most important thing to them is that they are OK. They
are alive, they are healthy. And they will rebuild.
Hopefully, you and I won’t ever suffer such an acutely tragic event
in our own lives. But we can still be inspired by the attitude of
For example, consider a problem, stressor or irritation you are
currently grappling with. Think about whether this will even register
in your brain or in your life a month from now…or a year from now…or
five years from now.
If you do this honestly and objectively, you’ll soon find that most
of the stressors in your life are things that you won’t even remember
or think about a few months from now.
Let alone five years from now.
So erase these from your stress list. Promise yourself that you will
no longer stress – or at least limit your stressing – about these
Now you have a considerably smaller list of things that, hopefully,
are far more critical to what matters most: your health, your family
and friends, your ability to make a contribution, and your ability to
achieve satisfaction and happiness in your life.
So give yourself the luxury of a moment and a few deep breaths once
Use your breathing to get yourself into “Big Picture” mode as often as
you can, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
With time, you’ll find “Big Picture” thinking leaves you a lot less
stressed and irritated over the small stuff…and helps you focus on
and complete a lot more of the important stuff more easily and
You Can Do It!
“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise!”
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about how breathing and “Big
Picture” thinking can help you reduce and even transform stress,
please visit the Best Breathing Exercises website.
Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2011