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Reframe stress to become more resilient

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Hi everyone,


As a corollary to my post about the importance of feeling good, I'd like to share this video I came across today that talks about how we can actually re-frame our attitude toward stress in a more positive way. You won't regret watching it until the end, I promise.


As I've recovered from protracted withdrawal, I've had to face some pretty harsh moments--the unexpected death of my father being one of them. For a long time I was doing whatever I could to avoid stress at all costs, thinking of it as a poison that was going to set me back.


And yes... as I realized again just last month, when our house got violently broken into, or this month, when I have to face the end of a long relationship, stressful situations can easily bring back symptoms for me. BUT... I also noticed that I've become much more resilient.


AND... strangely enough, I feel a sense that stressors are less likely to derail me if I feel a sense of greater purpose, or a sense of connection to others, or of personal value in what I am doing. I realize I can recover quicker from waves if I don't run from stress, or get overly worked up about it. If I'm not afraid of setbacks, but instead accept them (and this isn't an absolute... I cave in to depression and despair regularly... the important thing is coming back, again and again, to acceptance).

I feel like this video confirms something I've been noticing and just hadn't quite articulated to myself.


It made me remember that one of the periods of greatest improvement I felt was very early on, when I took on a very stressful job that took me to another country. It seemed an anomaly, because most of the other clear moments of improvement that I'd experienced occurred during vacations and trips when I felt happy and wasn't working. Until I realized I felt good about what I was doing during that period of high stress. It temporarily increased my anxiety and worsened my sleep, but I was able to get through it because I felt like I was doing something important.

I also realized that I've had periods of supposedly low stress where I didn't improve... and that those periods coincided with not feeling a sense of purpose or meaning in my life. Not liking my surroundings, not feeling challenged to grow, or feeling like I was stagnating.

It also reminds  me of something poet David Whyte wrote:


"There was a time, many years ago, working at a nonprofit organization, trying to fix the world and finding the world didn't want to be fixed as quickly as I'd like, that I found myself exhausted, stressed and finally, after one particularly hard day, at the end of my tether, I went home and saw a bottle of fine red wine I had left out on the table that morning before I left. No, I did not drink it immediately, though I was tempted, but it reminded me that I was to have a very special guest that evening. 

That guest was an Austrian friend, a Benedictine monk, Brother David Steindl-Rast, the nearest thing I had to a really wise person in my life at that time or at any time since. We would read German poetry together—he would translate the original text, I read the translations, all the while drinking the red wine. But I had my day on my mind, and the mind-numbing tiredness I was experiencing at work. I said suddenly, out of nowhere, almost beseechingly, 'Brother David, speak to me of exhaustion. Tell me about exhaustion.' 

And then he said a life-changing thing. 'You know,' he said, 'the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest.' 

'What is it then?'

'The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness. You're so exhausted because you can't be wholehearted at what you're doing...'"


So go out there and find wholeheartedness in whatever you can... even if right now all it means is appreciating a flower you come by, or being there for a friend in a time of need, or taking a moment to treat yourself kindly. Stress will come and go... you will have setbacks, life is full of them.


But if you find a sense of purpose in going on, if you listen for it deep within you, your body and mind will find the way to heal.


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Bump... What an amazing post.

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This post almost brought a tear to my eye.


It really rings true with me and helps me with a dilemma iv'e been facing recently. Iv'e recently started college again and it's been stressing me out leaving me with exacerbated symptoms at the end of the day. This has, in itself, been making me stress over whether its too early (6 months) to go back into education after a 2-drug cold turkey. I keep telling myself "I should stay at home a while longer to recover a little more" but ya know, like you, I felt the past six months ive been feeling that "stagnant" feeling which led me to self harm and feel overly pessimistic etc. 


Thank you for this post, Nadia

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