Stress or “mental burnout” can cause a number of nasty side-effects. Unfortunately, the causes of stress are often overlooked until it is too late. That’s when we begin to have health issues. So, in order to maintain your health, you must do two things. First, learn to recognize the signs of stress and then implement healthy strategies to cope.
Strategies to Cope with Stress
Learning to cope with stress is vital to our overall health and wellness. Stress can cause almost every ailment. It results in everything from headaches and insomnia to mental breakdowns and heart attacks. Stress is also is a major contributing factor to errors in thought and action. So, we want to learn to spot the warning signs. That way we can make changes before bad things happen.
The effects of stress sneak up on you. It’s an accumulation of small things that are subtle and hard to recognize. Hence, we get used to living with them. Consequently, we fail to recognize them until it is too late. We understand how being in a car accident is stressful. However, we almost always fail to recognize all the little stressful things which are often major contributing factors leading us to the accident.
Identifying the Three Main Causes of Stress
So, if you have any of the warning signs listed below you will know it’s time to make some changes in your lifestyle in order to not only avoid the effects of stress but in order to live a peaceful and enjoyable life.
1. Overly Pessimistic Thinking or Feeling Dissatisfied
Are you constantly thinking or feeling pessimistic and dissatisfied with life? It’s natural to be mindful of undesirable consequences, but when worst-case scenarios become the main topic of your thought-life, then it becomes a source of emotional and physical stress. When you are feeling this way you will tend to attract more of the same.
Are you are having negative, overly skeptical or feelings? Are you resentful and generally unhappy with your work or life? These are also potential signs of stress. Again, when we are thinking or feeling this way, we tend to continue in the spiral of unhealthy thoughts and feelings. Strange as it seems, this is also a comfort zone for many, even though it is unhealthy.
The key is realizing you are in this type of emotional whirlpool. Then you can implement some changes to raise your spirits and bring about peace in your life, even when or in spite of the circumstances that surround you. At the end of this article, you’ll find the strategies to address this. But, first, here are some other areas of concern:
2. Feeling Sick and Tired
You’ve probably heard the expression, “I’m sick and tired, of this or that.” You must realize that being chronically tired is only a small step away from being physically or mentally ill. Do you prefer to sleep away a day off, but awaken only more tired? Are you mentally lethargic even after that cup of coffee?
These are signs of an overstressed physical or emotional state. Are you always catching colds or persistent headaches or body aches and pains? These too can be signs of an overstressed immune and nervous system. Western medicine prescribes a pill to stimulate or kill the infection, but the root cause remains – an overstressed person.
The key is realizing you are in this type of emotional whirlpool. Then you can implement some changes to raise your spirits and bring about peace in your life, even when or in spite of the circumstances that surround you. At the end of this article, you’ll find the strategies to address this. We are not done yet. Here is one more area of concern
3. Errors and Self-Doubt
Errors and Self-Doubt go hand in hand. Or, if you prefer Self-Doubt and Errors. Either way, they can multiply. The more errors you make the more self-doubt and second-guessing. This leads to more errors. The cycle is debilitating and only causes more and more stress. It doesn’t matter if you are engaged in something physical or mental. The key is realizing you are in this type of emotional whirlpool. Then you can implement some changes to raise your spirits and bring about peace in your life, even when or in spite of the circumstances that surround you.
This is one of the most common issues that arise in the workplace. If you make errors you know your job is in jeopardy. In turn, this creates more stress which increases the probability you’ll make more mistakes. Most work environments have a progressive discipline for people who aren’t performing. So, when you are placed on this performance improvement plan your stress escalates. If you aren’t able to cope with the increased stress then you are more likely to make more errors. It’s a vicious spiral. It makes you susceptible to the other major stress factors of pessimistic thinking and feeling tired. You need to recognize the warning signs for this early. Otherwise, you’ll be unemployed and this is one of the most stressful experiences in anyone’s life.
Strategies to Cope with Stress
It doesn’t matter which of the three major areas of stress you find yourself in (or even if you find you identify with more than one) here are some strategies to move you toward a peaceful state from a stressful state:
Nature & Nurture
Take a walk in the wilderness or park. Above all learn the basic techniques for “Forest Bathing.” Essentially, this practice is focusing your attention outward on your body and the landscape. A place that hasn’t been manipulated by the hand of man is best. But a quiet park where you can hear and see the natural beauty of the world can work just as well.
The key here is to be someplace other than “in your head.” Be someplace that has scenery that you find calming and peaceful. Walking in such an environment greatly improves attitude.
If you find yourself “ruminating,” re-running conversations or events past, present or future, tell yourself to leave them alone for a while. Just walk outdoors and use your senses to feel how hot or cold it is, smell the season, listen for the birds. If at all possible, camp out in the wilderness. Yes, you’ll have to fight bugs and weather, but your spirit will reconnect with nature. Nature is our real home.
Meditate and bask in the state of pure consciousness even if it’s just for 5 minutes. If you don’t know how to meditate to reach this state, and many do not then find someone who can teach you Japa or Transcendental Meditation. You can start by learning basic mindfulness meditation techniques. These are easy to learn seated and moving meditative techniques you can use anywhere for any length of time. Learning to quiet the mind is an asset.
Chant a mantra designed to either bring peace or break down the barriers in your way. If you don’t know how to chant a mantra like this you should learn. This activity is one that takes the mind out of your normal hectic problem identification mode to one of a peaceful but energizing mood. It helps to ease the anxiety and anxiousness of thought patterns that cause stress. It also enables our heart to relax from any negative emotional state, thus reducing the amount of stress.
Read Something New and Challenging
Reading is how new software is installed in your mind. So, read something fun. Read things that stretch your thinking. Above all read things outside of your comfort zone. Believe it or not, this will reduce your stress. It gives the mind something new to think about. This is very restorative. It also creates new neuron pathways. In turn, this helps you to cope with stress.
The above strategies are just a few of the core spiritual technologies we recommend. There are a number of others which are also effective in dealing with the stresses of life. Obviously, engaging in a variety of positive life-affirming activities will safeguard your health and wellness. Consequently, we recommend learning as many of the ancient spiritual technologies. These are really consciousness development tools for expanding awareness and investigating higher states of consciousness.
Consciousness Development Tools
Everyone has their own way of awakening. And, each of us has spiritual gifts to aid in this quest. These gifts are sleeping in our DNA. So, waking these gifts is the key. It sets our spiritual walk into motion. It opens our mind to new potentials.
Finding ways to access these gifts was the central goal of many ancient cultures. And so, we benefit from generations of research. The results are a set of powerful tools anyone can use. We call these tools spiritual technologies. These are sound methods for expanding awareness and exploring consciousness.
Above all these tools stand up to the test of science. They are repeatable experiential phenomena. And, higher states of awareness also have unique measurable physiological signatures. They differ from the basic states of consciousness (waking, sleeping, and dreaming). These processes do not require belief in a religion. All you need to do is follow the process. For the most part, these tools come from Eastern traditions. This probably due to the fact their focus is on developing human potential.
Other schools of thought have a similarly eclectic approach. For example, Gurdjieff’s approach was to adopt what is already proven to be effective. After all, human physiology hasn’t changed in thousands of years. So, the work of the ancient pioneers stands the test of time.
What are Spiritual Technologies?
In essence, spiritual technologies are methods of developing your potential. In short, these mental tools focus on expanding awareness and consciousness. And, these processes stand up to the test of science – repeatable and measurable. Anyone can use them. It’s like baking a cake. If you follow the directions, you get something delicious. We call the practice of these processes Spiritual Exploration.
Of course, there are several ways to list these processes. It’s important to note some of these tools could easily be in more than one category:
- Logical reasoning is one of the first tools we study. This includes the companion tools, spotting logical fallacies and logical axioms. Above all, these are essential tools for any spiritual explorer. They are able to sharpen your ability to discern fact from fiction.
- Another important basic toolset is the “inner work” methods like The Enneagram Personality Profile. These help us to understand the mechanisms of Ego, personality, and instincts. They also provide a doorway to understanding the virtues and gifts of the spirit.
- Progressions of seated meditation are the heart of the practice. This includes a range from Basic Mindfulness Meditation through Japa Meditation and the Siddhis of Patanjali.
- Next, progressions of moving meditation. For instance, several methods of energy collection, like Forest Bathing, Qigong, and Tai Chi.
- Awareness and consciousness expansion pathways such as Lucid Dreaming and the Shamanic Journey or Guided Meditation.
- And last but not least, several healing modalities, such as Reiki, and Shiatsu.
If this article resonates, there are more on our blog. Also, you may be interested in learning about our blended learning process. This is our curriculum which we use to teach several mind-expanding tools. It also aligns the Hero’s Journey. This is the term Joseph Campbell gave the pattern of consciousness development. Our learning process is available in two forms. You can take part in the virtual learning module or in our workshops.
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