How’s stress working for you?

stress controlWe all have stress in our lives. It’s part of the deal. How much stress you have, I’m learning, is largely up to you. Your perspective has a lot to do with it. And what I’m realizing is that the degree to which I try and control certain areas of my life has a lot to do with how much stress I associate with them.

Here’s an example. Everybody has work stress. If you don’t, I ask you, are you ‘working’ on the beach in Cancun sipping the cool and refreshing beverage of your choice?

So yes, I have work stress. The other day though I was listening to a podcast by Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. He was talking with a client about control related to diet and food and how that showed up for her. Letting go of that has been something I’ve worked on. What it made me think about that day though was the control I like to think I have at work. Lately, work has felt stressful to me, but what I realized that morning was that a big reason for that was me. There’s a little flux in my role right now because of some exciting projects we’re working on, and shifts that could change some of my day to day work – all in a good way. But even though it’s all good, it’s flux, and I’m not in control of it. Not in control of the timing, or how it plays out. I have input, but I’m not a one man show. There are a lot of voices speaking into how the projects roll out, and they’ll be better for it. But again, not in control. Once I realized that, I was able to consciously start letting go of my desire to control my work, and trust the process.  I just started so I can’t quite say I’m all the way there, but it’s baby steps in the right direction.

So in thinking about that, I’m really seeing how the amount of stress I associate with any situation has to do with how much I try to, or think I have to, control it.  I’ve wanted a new car for quite a while, but it was finally time. My husband and I drove one on Friday night and by yesterday morning, I told him I was all in. But then I went about my leisurely Saturday morning. I later realized that while I did yoga and meandered around Whole Foods, he was in go mode. He researched, he price compared, he was looked at rates, at what was available through other dealers. Next thing I knew, he was at the dealer, telling me he had the car, waaaaay under the MSRP, and I needed to come sign papers. For a second, my control self reared up and asked me why I hadn’t had all that under my control?  The stress, driven by guilt, reared up, but I shut it down (yes, applause comes now). I drove down and had a stress free buying experience. Instead of stress that could have come from the experience, I was grateful. Grateful I had a husband who was so good at all that stuff. Stuff that really I’m not good at, and don’t especially care about being good at, so even more grateful to have him.

Where do you have stress in your life? Could it be that you’re trying to hold on tight, to control, situations that would be better served if you just let go? Stress and control are draining energies and letting go of them is freeing, making room for the positive energy I think we all want in our lives.

There are a few simple things you can do to start moving towards letting go of control and stress.

  • Think about the areas of your life that cause you stress.
  • Be real with yourself about the amount of control you try to have in those areas.
  • From your list, consider which one you’d like to reduce your stress in the most – in this moment.
  • Write down 1-3 things you can do to reduce the amount of control you’re trying to have in those areas.

Try to let go of control and the stress that comes with it. You’ll find yourself far more engaged and “all in” in whatever situation it is if you have an open hand, rather than a death grip.

And then breathe…Relax…And enjoy the experience.

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