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I am listening to this amazing book called, "Full Catastrophe Living," by Jon Kabat Zinn.  He is an expert in stress reduction and responsible for an incredible body of work on this topic academically and hands on. Here is an excerpt that I found particularly tantalizing (rough recount): 

"It is easy to discount what other people are telling you, or even to deny what your own body or mind is trying to tell you when your habits have become a way of life."  He goes on to say, "Being stuck in a stress reaction cycle is neither normal or inevitable.  The alternative is to stop reacting to stress and start responding to it."

This made so much sense to me!  See, I was that person that was so stressed, anxiety ridden, and overwhelmed all the time that I didn't even know that was the case!  I had been that way for so long that I had no awareness that it was who I had become.  You may be wondering how that can be because obviously I was having unpleasant emotional experiences, but the thing was that I had been having them so long I didn't know that it wasn't normal!  Maybe this sounds simplistic or even a little looney?  But, it's true, I had no idea that I was as stressed as I was and that being that stressed out was not necessary!

I was that person who was discounting what other people (friends and family) were telling me about slowing down.  I was that person that was tired from not sleeping enough because my mind was always going.  I was that person that had so many projects and moving parts that I would regularly be completely overwhelmed, when I would give myself the minute to do that!  And, all of this while doing all the things and achieving all the things that I was told would make me happy.  Yet, I was unhappy and didn't even know it.  You know what I mean?  No one told me that being in reaction to people, circumstances, and stress all day, every day was not normal! 

It took me nearly a decade to figure it out and I want to tell you, in case no one else has, that being stressed and overwhelmed does not have to be normal.  It may be something you have practiced for awhile, but it doesn't have to be your experience any more!  (I recognize I have used a lot of exclamation points in this passage, I get excited when talking about this stuff!)

Ok, on to a solution.  Yep, you guessed it, mindfulness.  Mindfulness is being in the present moment, this moment here, now.  See, when I was that stressed out I was in every moment, but the present.  I was in the past or I was trying to control or predict the future, what I call "making up stories" about what is about to happen.  Maybe you can relate?  I believe that most people are living their lives having emotional experiences about what their future holds, rather than experiencing what is going on right now in their lives. I feel so blessed that I get to be a part of the journey my clients take to understanding this "stress reaction cycle" so that they can start feeling better in their lives.  It is possible to feel good predominantly, regardless of the circumstances, when you have someone to guide you along the way.  I'm in your corner.

Peace, Erin "recovering stress-case" Mac

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