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Manage Stress before it Manages you.

Manage Stress before it Manages you.

I’m not sure what I was expecting but the look of concern on my doctors face told me this might be more serious than I thought. For a few terrible weeks as I was bouncing around between specialists, ultrasounds and MRI’s I began to wonder if this would be how it all ended. I’d always thought of myself as a fairly healthy guy but looking back I knew there was a lot of room for improvement. The way I was handling stress was probably the biggest reason why I ended up here in the first place.

It’s never just one thing

Stress overload is never just one thing. It’s a lot of things, added up over time. Poor diet, not enough sleep, too much work, carrying a little extra weight, you get the idea, it all adds up. So what do you do when your health, which was always sort of an after thought , is now suddenly sitting there right in front of you demanding your full attention? You listen and you make changes.

A year ago I had a scare. It turned out to be something fairly minor but I decided it was time to make some changes so I thought it would be best to start with the stuff I could easily control: better diet, steady exercise and something that kind of surprised me, meditation. I’d struggled with meditation in the past. It never really seemed to work for me. Sitting there quietly, alone with my thoughts was not an appealing idea. My mind would race and I’d wind up frustrated. After a while I’d usually just give up but I was serious this time, so I decided to dig a little deeper. I hopped on Google and stumbled onto something called guided meditation. Guided meditations are basically recordings designed to walk you through the meditation process from start to finish. They cover a host of topics like stress, health, anxiety, relaxation etc. They are great for beginners and people who tend to have busy minds, like me.

Getting with the program

Turns out there are quite a few apps out there that offer an even more structured approach to guided meditation. I decided to try a few. As I worked my way through the programs I discovered that meditation is a lot like playing a musical instrument. You need time to practice and develop your skills. My initial expectations had been totally wrong. You can’t just sit down to meditate and expect it to master it on the first or second try. That would be like picking up the guitar and expecting to play like Jimi Hendrix without having ever played before. It just doesn’t work that way.

Yeah, there are still days when the volume feels like it’s turned up to 11 but those are fewer and further between. Understanding the limitations of the mind and allowing for those limitations makes it easier. Over time you get better. As you get better you begin to see changes like lower stress levels, changes to your overall mental health and an improved sense of general well being. The best part about meditation is you don’t have to wait until you’re overwhelmed with stress to start. In fact the sooner you start the less likely you are to be overwhelmed in the first place.