Coping with stress

By on May 15, 2011

The disaster of March 11th shook Japan and the world to its core – nothing of this magnitude has transpired in our lifetime, and it is understandable that people in Japan are under a great deal of stress. The true cause of stress, however, is the belief that one does not have the resources to cope with a given situation. While there is an element of truth to this notion – this IS the first time this has happened and there IS a lot to cope with – no matter how dire the situation, our brains and bodies can problem-solve with ease if we can amp down the stress levels that inhibit our ability to access our innate insight. When we go ‘mental’ – that is, when we go into our heads to think – we divert energy away from our physical body, resulting in less integrated awareness and choices. Being grounded in your physical body in challenging times enables you to be present in the reality of your circumstances, thereby supporting appropriate decisions. Here are some tips to help you feel more at home in your body in times of stress so that you can make more grounded, informed choices.

 

One step to increasing physical presence is to feel your feet on the floor. Whether sitting or standing right now, grow awareness of your feet: feel the soles of your feet against the ground, and feel the ground pushing up against your feet. Now bring your attention to being inside your feet – feel your feet from the inside out. Even if you are in an earthquake and you feel the earth move under your feet, maintaining consciousness of that presence in your feet and that connection to the ground supports you in your physical movements as well as your overall body-mind awareness. 

 

When seated, feel your body against the chair in addition to growing awareness of your feet. You can still maintain presence in your head while having consciousness of your body’s contact with the outer physical world. In fact, a very balancing visualization is to imagine that you are fully present inside your entire body, as though you are wearing your skin. 

 

Be mindful of having more of your awareness of this experience being on the inside of your body, as opposed to the outside. Notice the difference between simply visualizing it and allowing yourself to experience yourself inside your body. As you do so, you can grow consciousness of areas that you are not inhabiting as fully. Because you are working in the imaginal realm, you can more quickly make changes to your inner experience as you increase presence in those areas. Inhabiting your body from the inside helps to slow down the thought process’ negative impact on physiological well-being in times of stress, while giving you access to whole-system awareness. 

 

A quick-and-easy tip when you need to think clearly is to give yourself a helping hand, literally: place the palm of one hand across your forehead. You have probably seen students do this in a classroom, and may yourself have suddenly done so yourself when you needed to think quickly – a sign that the body innately recognizes this as a supportive ‘clear thinking’ position. This simple gesture stimulates blood flow to the forebrain, which is the part of the brain that processes new information. Because stress often moves awareness to parts of the brain relating to emotion and past experience, this simple action helps to shift the balance in favour of more grounded in-the-moment connection of ideas, and the emotion you are experiencing can be addressed without taking over. 

 

Whether reviewing a past event, a future situation, or a present-time stressor, this holding of the forehead can in a very short time help you to process information and generate ideas in a very different way. Hold your forehead for at least 30 seconds to facilitate a shift in breathing and heart-rate as well. If circumstances allow, place your other hand across the back of your head to stimulate the visual cortex, thereby supporting seeing new ideas more clearly. (Don’t squeeze your head too hard – it won’t get the ideas out faster.) 

 

We never know what the future will bring, and being present in our bodies is the only way that we can really cope with any situation, as challenging as the circumstances may be. These tools can help you maximize your innate inner-body awareness to support your wholeness. 

 

May you experience more presence, ease, and awareness in these times of profound change. 

 

Mark Ainley is a Contemporary Feng Shui Consultant and Emotional Stress Consultant living in Vancouver. A former 5-year resident of Tokyo, Mark consults with clients internationally to help them design living and work spaces in alignment with their goals. He also provides consulting in emotional stress management, as well as in the connection between facial structure and innate behavioural and communication patterns. He can be reached through his website www.markainley.com

About Mark Ainley

Mark Ainley is a Contemporary Feng Shui Consultant and Emotional Stress Consultant living in Vancouver. A former 5-year resident of Tokyo, Mark consults with clients internationally to help them design living and work spaces in alignment with their goals. He also provides consulting in emotional stress management, as well as in the connection between facial structure and innate behavioural and communication patterns. He can be reached through his website: www.senseofspace.com and www.markainley.com.