Understanding Stress

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by Roberta Whitney Hughes, Founder of PeaceFull Living and PeaceFull Living TV.

I have good news and bad news.

Here’s the bad news. You will never be completely free of stress. Life is full of stress and it cannot be eliminated. In fact, it is inevitable that stress will show up in your life every single day. More than likely, it will show up many times in a day.

Now, here’s the good news. Stress is part of being a human being, and stress is not a terrible thing. Even better news is that you can create a healthy relationship with stress by developing tools that help you to manage it rather than suffer from it.

Why isn’t stress a bad a thing?

It is healthy for your body and mind to experience stress and learn how to work through it. 

Stress asks your body and mind to take action. Each time you work through a stressful situation, your ability to manage stress becomes stronger. For example, the stress of an upcoming presentation may encourage you to focus and perform at a higher level. By working through the stress and completing the presentation, you are teaching your body and mind to stay focused on the end result. When the presentation is complete, your body is able to return to a place of harmony because the stress is gone.

Why does stress feel so bad?

Stress becomes problematic when you suppress it or ignore it. When stressful situations stack up, they weaken your ability to manage stress in a healthy way. Unmanaged stress leaves you feeling overwhelmed, anxious, unable to sleep, and irritable. 

Understanding How Your Body Manages Stress

All living things have a combination of yin and yang energy. Both are needed for harmony. Too much yang energy depletes yin energy. Likewise, too much yin energy suppresses yang energy.

Yin energy supports your body’s ability to rest, relax and restore. When you call on yin energy during times of stress, it helps your body relax and slows down your heart rate. Yin energy makes it possible to focus, breathe, and rest even when stress is present.

Yang energy supports your ability to be alert and take quick action. It is helpful in times of acute stress. For example, quick action is needed when you are driving and the car in front of you slams on the breaks. Your ability to react may prevent an accident and save you from harm. More than likely, your body will tense and your heart will race. Once the incident is over and you no longer feel danger, yin energy comes in to help your body relax and return to harmony.

How to Balance Yin and Yang Energy

Think of energy as a muscle. When you devote time to activities that support yin energy, it becomes stronger. When you devote time to activities that support yang energy, it becomes stronger. Because most of us lead fast-paced lives, much of our time is devoted to activities that support yang energy. By adding in practices that teach your body and mind how to access yin energy, you strengthen your ability to manage stressful situations when they arise. 

Activities that Strengthen Yin Energy

  • yoga
  • meditation
  • sleep
  • massage
  • acupunture
  • time in nature
  • silence
  • breathing exercises

Activities that Strengthen Yang Energy

  • Exercise
  • Work
  • Parenting
  • Screen Time
  • Talking

Journaling Prompts

  1. Reflect on the yang activities in your life. Make a list of all of them. How much time do you invest in these activities each day?
  2. Reflect on the yin activities in your life. Make a list of them. How much time do you invest in these activities each day?
  3. If you notice a deficiency in yin activities, make a list of the activities you can add into your day.
  4. How much time can you dedicate to strengthening your yin energy each day? No amount of time is too small. Even one minute a day every day will make a difference.

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