How to Let Go of Anxiety and Stress


When we're feeling stressed or anxious, especially because of circumstances at work, or with family members, it's easy to feel think there's no way to allay our negative emotions; we feel stuck, and the more stuck we feel, the more we identify with being the sort of person who is stressed. We can look at peaceful, centered people - the kind of people who speak at a steady volume, wear yoga pants, and say things like All is Well - and believe that we'll never be like them; it's just in our nature to be lunatics. But that's not true. It's easier than we think to shift from being the sort of person who's always stressed to being the sort of person who maintains a sense of peace through even the most tumultuous times in life.

The key to feeling less anxious and stressful is the willingness to question our thoughts and detach from our perspectives. Our egos (the constant voice in our minds with which we identify) is headstrong in its insistence, asserting hyperbolic statements like: There's no way I'm going to find a better paying job. I'll never be in a healthy relationship. It's going to take forever to get out of debt. My daughter is never going to get her life together. 

It's the thoughts we have of particular situations that bring on stress, not the situations themselves. A mindful person with a meditation practice, who regularly detaches and becomes present to his thoughts, is able to detach from situations that others deem stressful, and find peace around them. Some people are more allowing of life to unfold without imposing judgements from their ego such as: This shouldn't happen to me. This is unfair. I'll never be able to get over this. 

All it takes is the smallest amount of willingness. The more we cling to our perceptions and refuse to look at things in a new way, the more stressful we can be. A Course in Miracles, a spiritual curriculum, says, "You can either be right or happy."

Shifting requires the smallest amount of softening.

Instead of thinking: There's no way my child is going to get his life together.

Try: People change all the time.

Instead of thinking: I'm never going to be able to forgive this person.

Try: I'm willing to understand this person's perspective.

Instead of thinking: I'll never open my heart and be ready to date.

Try: I'm healing more and more each day from the pain of my last relationship.

As the way we see things changes, our levels of stress and anxiety lessen. Stress is a result of myopic perspective; as our perspective widens, we are left with a greater sense of peace and possibility.