How Can I Relieve or Prevent Stress?

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I think there are several steps in stress reduction, and the one most obvious one is understanding what you can and can't change. And if there are toxic situations in your life like terrible relationships or terrible employment situations, you can't get better with that in place. You change the things you can, and then just like the serenity quote from AA "you try to accept the things that you can't change."

Now even the term stress reduction in our society is problematic because it implies that you can get rid of stress, that stress is bad, but stress is here to stay. Stress in embedded in our environment, it's embedded in aspects of every day life and so are negative feelings and negative emotions. The sources of information and they are not inherently bad to have, but because we have such a reverse reaction of feeling bad we naturally want to get away from that, that's part of the problem.

We try to run away from bad situations and suppress stressful thoughts and negative situations. That doesn't work very well, so what we do in our studies is we try to help people change their relationship to emotions and thoughts, rather than try to not have a whole class of emotions and thoughts that we're just naturally programmed to have, so for example when we're stressed about something.

What does that mean, what does that look like? We worry about things that might happen to anticipate stress, so we are always in a little bit state of vigilance. Then the stressful event happens renounce stress response we try to cope with it and then there's the recovery process with a stressful event.

Now that recovery process used to be turned off completely but now we have this amazing pre-frontal cortex where we can just relive that event, ruminate about what happened, worry about the next thing. We can take the stress with us far far into the future, we can live in the future and that's where our thoughts can remain and that keeps us vigilant and stressed out, so stress comes down to the thoughts that we have and if we can recognize those thoughts and change our relationship with them then we are not as stressed out.

So what is changing relationship with them? We see that we have them, we realize the nature of the mind that there are just thoughts, they are not reality we might laugh at them it's actually very funny to observe the mind it's a skill you can gain through certain types of meditation like insight meditation and these types of insights help people notice their experience and just be OK with it rather than fighting it suppressing it or in [xx] at making it worse.