I went to the dentist this week, and she caught something interesting. I came in with a seemingly small complaint, but my fantastic dentist told me I was actually carrying a lot of stress in my masseter muscles (jaw muscles). She recommended just relaxing during my Thanksgiving break to relieve some of my "tooth pain."
This got me thinking... How can we let go of stress? We deal with this on a daily basis, whether it's the stress of being busy and overwhelmed at work, dealing with traffic, maintaining our finances, etc. Stress has some pretty serious effects: it makes us be less happy, productive, and healthy. And, in my case, stress makes my jaw muscles a little too strong.
What Do We Struggle With?
Why exactly do we get stressed out or feel overwhelmed?
The stress is not from our chaotic world, but our desire for it to be different than it is. We have ideas for how everything around us should be. The real crux of the problem is not having ideals; the issue is that we are too attached to these ideals. In turn, these attachments cause stress.
The good news is that we can let go of our attachments without feeling like we need to change the world first.
How Do We Let Go of Stress?
First, it is important to recognize your personal stress response. The list is endless, but jaw clenching, nail biting, and irritability are some of the most common stress responses we have. Here are four ways to let go:
- Notice the idea, or the narrative, about the situation. The world or person is not meeting your perfect outcome, but the key is to notice what you are saying to yourself about it. Do you notice a specific ideal that ends up causing stress, anxiety, or fear? If so, that ideal is not serving you well. Recognize it and remove that narrative... forever.
- Concentrate only on what can be changed. Live, let go, and try not to waste energy worrying about the things you cannot change. If you can't change something that is upsetting you, change the way you think about it.
- Focus on the current moment. The past is only a memory, and the future is a projection. Dwelling on the past and future frequently can suffocate your ability to thrive in the present.
- Embrace a state of openness. Part of letting go is to be grateful for every experience that has made you laugh, cry, and grow. Find the strength to embrace life's challenges and joys to take positive steps forward.
How Does This Relate to Productivity?
Without a healthy mind (and healthy body, for that matter), it is impossible to be productive. Research has shown evidence that the well-being of employees has a direct relationship to their productivity levels. Taking care of your mental and physical health boosts productivity and happiness, which is what mindful productivity is all about.
How do you handle stressful situations? Let me know in the comments!