Eliminating Stress: Rule 1 – Live in the Moment

There is no doubt that stress takes an enormous toll on our bodies – from headaches, insomnia, frequent colds and infections, to stomach problems, muscle and body aches – you name it!  It can also be seen in our faces, showing up in the form of acne and early aging.

How do we deal with stress and eliminate its damaging effects? In this series I am going to be sharing techniques that have truly worked for me through the most traumatic and stressful of times.

This is a very personal topic to me, but probably one of the most important lessons in my life. Stress is chronic in our society, at a time when bullying and burnout have become rampant. One in six Americans are on anti-depressants. Constant internet access has overwhelmed us with world issues that leave us feeling fearful, angry, and powerless. Social media has made us feel compelled to check our phones every 5 minutes to feel validated and “liked”, while we compare ourselves to millions of other people who might be prettier, with more money, and more exciting lives. We are often left with the feeling that we aren’t accomplishing enough and we aren’t good enough. Pure stress has become the norm.

And don’t believe this isn’t showing up in our faces. My father is 71, but he looks 50. His skin doesn’t sag and he has almost no wrinkles. He has always been a calm, healthy, clean-living, basically happy person. Yesterday I met a woman who is 50 and looks 85. Her face is weathered and I could see in an instant all the stress and hardships of a life that led to alcohol abuse. Her wrinkles were in the shape of her permanent scowl. 

Do we have a choice? How do we stop the madness? How do we deal with the stress in our lives and stop it from damaging our bodies, minds, and faces?

Rule One: Live in the present

When we have events or situations that are really stressing us out, we are usually focusing on one of two things: A. We are regretful of something we did or did not do in the past. B. We are fearful or worried about something that may or may not happen in the future. Our stress is rarely about things that are actually happening now.

For example, right now I am a bit worried about whether or not anyone will actually like this article.  I am also worried about whether I can fulfill my potential and accomplish enough in my business.  Will I keep my New Years resolutions?  Will anyone ever love me, or will I stay alone the rest of my life?  Should I follow my sense of adventure and spend six months in Korea this year?  Will my daughter gain a little more self esteem and find her way in life? 

At the same time I am also wondering why I put my foot in my mouth again yesterday.  I regret not keeping in better contact with my family.  I feel immense guilt about not visiting them more often and somehow getting stuck in a life so far away from home.  I wish I had planned my life better when I was younger and had more opportunities.  I regret eating that entire package of peanut M&Ms last night. 

These are the things that plague me.  But when you think about it, not one of these things have anything to do with now.  At this moment I am curled up in my favorite bathrobe, in a warm house, with a fantastic cup of coffee.  I have enough to eat.  It is quiet and peaceful.  I am free to do anything I like with my day.  At this very moment I am fine.

So why not stay in this moment?  It is a choice you can make.  And its actually pretty simple.  When your mind starts wandering to worries about the future, or regrets from the past, simply rein it back to the NOW.  We can discipline our thoughts to focus on our immediate state and circumstances. 

Is this burying our heads in the sand?  No!  It is about enjoying, savoring, and living each moment more vividly, which actually gives us more energy to fulfill those future goals.  So stay in that moment!   

At this moment you are fine, and you are perfect just as you are.

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