Anxiety & Stress Reduction Techniques: How to Move From Stress to P.E.A.C.E. (Even in These Crazy Times) by Rachel Tenenbaum
Over 70 percent of people say they've experienced moderate to extreme stress in the last six months, according to a survey released by John Hancock Retirement. With international conflicts raging, new COVID variants developing, volcanoes erupting and politicians flailing, how can we maintain our inner peace in a world full of ever-increasing stressors? When you are stressed, remember the acronym I teach my corporate clients:
P.E.A.C.E.: Pause, Embrace, Acknowledge, Choose, and Engage.
Too often we allow our feelings, our joy, our contentment and our peace to hinge on others and outside circumstances. Keep in mind, you cannot change or control others and oftentimes outside circumstances. So you’re left with a choice: You can generate further inner frustration, leaving you unable to see or think clearly, or you can use these five tools to choose what is and protect and prioritize your P.E.A.C.E.
Moving From Stress to P.E.A.C.E.
- Pause: The first step in fostering and prioritizing our inner peace is pausing, being exactly where you are, and holding space for that. No judgment, just awareness. When you pause you can reflect on what your brain is predicting might happen. A simple pause gives you (and your brain) space to look at the situation anew. Pausing helps you step out of your emotional, reactive response and into flexible open-mindedness.
- Embrace: Embrace how you feel. Have self-awareness for where you are. Give yourself permission to allow whatever is there. If there is any tension, discomfort or stress, notice what happens as you open to it, as if you were opening your arms and embracing it as you would a child. What else can you embrace? What else can you accept? Knowing that you cannot change or control others and oftentimes circumstances, what can you accept?
- Acknowledge: Acknowledge A) what it is you really want, and B) your habits, actions and thoughts that will get in the way of what you really want. Part A: Ask yourself questions such as, "Given what is, what is the best possible outcome? What do I really want from this situation or the relationship? What do I want for myself?" Allow the answers to arise. The ability to step back and embrace circumstances against what we really want sets the stage to build brain pathways that lead you back to the peace you ultimately desire. Part B: Next, tell the truth to yourself. Given what it is I want, what old habits, feelings or habitual debilitating beliefs can get in the way? Once again, allow these answers to arise. This is the ultimate in super-charging: saying no to what doesn’t matter and yes to what does matter.
- Choose: Make a new choice given what you really want. This will create a new pathway in your mind. Questions to consider might be What action, thought or belief best aligns with and enables what I truly desire? What fosters and enables my peace? Also recognize that choosing not to engage or take action is often one of the most powerful ways of prioritizing your peace.
- Engage: After you’ve made a choice, feel and see yourself engaging differently. Engage wholeheartedly with every element of you. See yourself taking a new action that prioritizes your peace. See yourself feeling peaceful, aware that as you do, you it liberates you to lean into life – your life – and the abundance of opportunities that surround you.
Once you learn to practice P.E.A.C.E., you will start to mitigate your own stress levels. Undue stress impacts your memory and ability to learn, and it also wears down your telomeres which have a direct impact on health and illness. (These protect the ends of your chromosomes by forming a cap, much like the plastic tip on shoelaces.) Most of the time when you are stressed out, you might blame it on others – but you cannot control anyone else. You can only control yourself.
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