When life gives you lemons – you are encouraged to try and make lemonade. But what about when life gives you strawberries and cream – do you enjoy and savour them?
We all have times when our life seems to be running more smoothly, when there aren’t any major or even minor crises going on, and when things seem to be easy and free flowing. Maybe your finances are doing ok after a stressful period, or your health concerns have calmed down or passed.
How easily do you relax and enjoy these times?
If you’re someone that seems to have a lot of stress in your life, your body becomes used to being that way, to feeling stressed and reacting to situations. Our stress hormones rise in our body so when there is even just a minor stress we can get triggered easily. We can become more sensitive to things that don’t even affect our personal life. If you are in a state of high alert and you read something on the news, this can trigger a stress reaction in you.
If you are someone who had a stressful childhood, you might be more likely to have higher stress levels as an adult than those that had a relaxed, calm, loving and supportive childhood. The body can then be so used to feeling stressed, that it is familiar and weirdly comfortable so we can unconsciously seem to seek out other challenging situations that mean that we continue to experience stress because that is so familiar.
But then when life is easier, it can be difficult to relax. I have had a very busy few weeks with little time to myself and I noticed that when I had a few quieter days, I found that I wasn’t relaxed enough to be able to sit around comfortably, I kept jumping up and finding another job to do. Our nervous systems can take a while to let go and relax when they have been very busy, and possibly running on empty.
Also, when times are calmer and quieter, we can have more time to reflect and think, which can trigger our catastrophising tendencies, or we can become aware of a sense of unease and free-floating anxiety that we can feel in our bodies.
Bringing your awareness to this tendency or habit is one of the first things you can do to engage with the possibility of changing this, to start considering the possibility of shifting that habitual body feeling of stress. We have to become aware of something before we can even see that we may have an influence and potential to change something.
The second step is to embellish and indulge in this feeling of calm and relaxation. When you are in a more relaxed space in your life, this is generally when you are more receptive to positive changes. We are no longer firefighting or surviving our life, we are more fully living and potentially enjoying it.
When you are in crisis mode, you can feel quite negative so if, for example, you come across a positive quote or someone purporting the benefits of gratitude, this can feel so out of touch with where you are coming from that it is laughable. It can be hard to engage with these things when you are in a high-stress, high-crisis mode.
But when you come to a pause or more easy stage in your life, there may feel like this could be an opportunity to expand this feeling of ease and harmony. As your mood may feel a bit lighter, you could consider developing a gratitude practice, or engaging with other things that you enjoy and that add to your sense of relaxation, for example, booking a massage, doing some yoga, trying out some meditation, having an aromatherapy bath, going for a quiet walk in the countryside.
You may also wish to explore the possibility of working with affirmations – using some generic affirmations that feel believable enough to say but also positive and life-enhancing, for example, I am safe and well. All is well in my world. I am surrounded by love and support. I appreciate my good health.
Another thing you can do alongside embellishing your good feelings is switching off and actively avoiding doing the things that you know trigger you, for example, watching or listening to the news, indulging in negative conversation and gossip with friends or disappearing down the rabbit hole of negativity on social media.
The longer that you can keep up this feeling of relaxation and enjoyment in your life, this sense that life is good, the more your body gets used to this way of being, the more your nervous system calms down and your stress receptors and high-alert mode start to switch off.
This gives you the opportunity to notice that there may be different ways to react when external circumstances and internal thoughts and feelings trigger you the next time around, and it increases your chances of noticing when your stress gets triggered again, which offers you more choices about how you respond with your familiar reactivity patterns. Maybe you can try responding to things in different ways, asserting your boundaries better, saying no to things that you don’t want to do, and choosing to not watch negative TV programs.
I refuse to believe that life is only to be survived and endured. I choose to believe that life is to be enjoyed. Namaste.
May all beings be safe and well. May all beings be happy. May all beings live in peace.