We all face stress and we will continue to – in our big moments and our quiet contemplations. Destressifying will allow you to face them all, move through them with grace and ease, and come out the other side stronger, braver, clearer, more powerful, and ready to take on the world!
The most recent scientific research points to the fact that stress is not necessarily bad for us.
Stress has now been proven to enhance performance by focusing us and pushing us forward in the direction of our goals; and with this stress-driven motivation comes increased productivity and greater satisfaction. Severe stress — in the aftermath of a trauma — has even been credited with birthing many of our aha! moments, reinforcing our relationships, elevating our journey of personal development. It’s even been confirmed that stress has restorative properties that can increase health and rejuvenate cells after the initial ordeal.
Stress Rests in the Eyes of the Beholder
The long-term implications of stress are all based on our perception of it. Under the guidance of Dr. Richard J. Davidson, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison performed an eight-year study on perception of stress and its impact on mortality. More than 25,000 participants were asked to rate their stress level over the past year and rank how much they believed this stress influenced their health. Over the next eight years, public death records were used to record the death of any subjects. The test subjects who self-reported high levels of stress AND believed stress had a large impact on their health, had a forty-three percent increased risk of death. The test subjects that self-reported a lot of stress in their life BUT did not interpret its effects as negative had the fewest amount of deaths over the eight years.
The main reason most people suffer with stress is because they don’t have the tools. It is the reason I twisted for more than twenty years in the corporate world struggling with restless sleep, living without balance, feeling overwhelmed, and searching for deeper fulfillment that rarely seemed to come… and when it did, it was fleeting. I didn’t know what the tools were – nor did I have the manual on how to use them. I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THERE WERE TOOLS!
But right now, you’re way ahead of where I was; and I have spent the last fourteen years compiling the research and studying the wisdom needed to live a destressified life. There are five keys to living a destressifying life:
- Mastering your awareness
- Mastering your needs
- Mastering your emotions
- Mastering your communication
- Mastering your purpose in life
So let’s dive into a stress-busting tool right now so you can feel the transformational nature of these teachings.
Sixteen Seconds That Will Change Your Life
Of all the techniques that I’ve shared throughout the world, the one with the most powerful effect is perhaps the simplest one. It’s a game changer, and I call it “Sixteen seconds to clarity.”
Not only does it have a profound destressifying impact in the moment, but it can also be the foundation for a long-lasting daily practice. I’ve trained more than 100,000 people from all walks of life in this powerful technique and it has had a transformational impact. Let’s try it right now. It’s okay to keep reading as you go through this exercise with me:
Think of something that has irritated or bothered you in the past few days . . . a difficult conversation, a disappointment, an unmet expectation. Perhaps someone said they would do something and they didn’t, or they said they would meet you at a certain time and they were late, or they unexpectedly shared something about you with another person and it got back to you. (Don’t go too deep. This isn’t therapy.) But right now, feel free to envision that other person’s face . . . maybe replay the moment in your mind’s eye, even notice someplace in your body that feels connected to the irritation. Take a few moments to settle into that space.
- Now take a long, slow, deep breath in through your nostrils, and as you do . . . slowly count to four, and observe the air as it moves into your nostrils and to the back of your throat. Watch your breath as it moves down your chest and deep into your lungs. Feel your belly expand.
- Observe your belly being filled, and hold that breath in to the count of four. And just witness the breath in your belly as you silently count. One, two, three, four.
- Now slowly, to the count of four, release your breath and watch it as it moves up into your chest, into your throat, into your sinuses, and out through your nostrils.
- And when the last wisp of air is out of you, hold that breath out to the count of four. And observe it, watch it, witness it . . . as it dissipates into the air.
- Now breathe normally, and let’s try it with your eyes closed. Remember: in four—hold four—out four—hold four. And make sure you follow your breath. Observing it along the way is key to the process. (I’ll wait right here . . . it’s only sixteen seconds.)
I’m guessing you’re back right now, eyes open and breathing normally. Well, our whole experience was thirty-two seconds: sixteen seconds with your eyes open and sixteen seconds with your eyes closed. And in that half a minute while you were observing your breath (assuming you were playing along), you were totally present. You were not thinking about the past or any of its grievances or regrets, nor moving into the future with all its predictions and projections. You were not thinking about your irritation. You were totally in the present moment. Your mind is a little calmer; your heartbeat has slowed a bit. You’ve filled your body with heavily oxygenated blood and nourishing hormones, and in the process, you’ve released a little bit of stress.
In under a minute, you have taken another powerful step into destressifying. The formal terminology for what’s happening in sixteen seconds is introducing a pattern interrupt. You actually just jammed the brakes on a potential surge of stress hormones and all the negative bodymind reactions you were starting to feel as you reflected on your irritation. You broke the flow of conditioned physical and emotional biological responses. Just the thought of this irritating situation or person triggered a memory of the stressful circumstances, and in sixteen seconds you returned to the present moment. Then in the seventeenth second, you’re clearer—beyond the moment of emotion.
Hopefully, you are a bit calmer . . . a bit lighter . . . a bit easier. Now imagine if you could string together minutes of that. Well, you actually do every time you use a destressifying technique such as sixteen seconds or any of the other in-the-moment destressifying tools.
When we introduce a pattern interrupt into our flow of thoughts, we can gently step aside from the uneasy memories of the past or the anxious thoughts of the future and truly ground ourselves back into the present moment. Our bodymind moves beyond all that irritation, anger, discomfort, anxiety, and less-than or “it’s not fair” thinking. The constriction vanishes instantly; and our next thought, word, or action will come from a less conditioned, more expansive place. Now we are primed for greater possibilities, novel solutions, and infinite potential. Whatever limiting belief was holding us back is momentarily suspended.
Through my new book “destressifying: The Real-World Guide to Personal Empowerment, Lasting Fulfillment, and Peace of Mind” together we will walk through each of the masteries until they are embedded within. Once these life tools are part of your thoughts, they will become your internal dialog. And as they embed themselves into every fiber of your being, they will become your outer dialog – the way you express yourself with your words and actions. Your perspective on your entire existence will shift. You will become destressified effortlessly.
davidji is a certified Vedic Master and a teacher of stress management, emotional healing, and conscious choice-making. He is the author of the best-selling books, destressifying: The Real-World Guide to Personal Empowerment, Lasting Fulfillment, and Peace of Mind and Secrets of Meditation: A Practical Guide to Inner Peace & Personal Transformation and the creator of the award-winning guided meditation CD Fill What is Empty; Empty What is Full. Visit davidji.com for free tools, tips, and techniques to take your practice to the next level and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.