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Understanding the True Nature of Stress

Ever notice how some people are able to smoothly deal with stressful situations while others simply fall apart?

Stress is a natural and predictable emotion that every human being has to live with. However, when we lack the experience, insight and practice needed to work skillfully with this mental state, it can become a real problem for ourselves and for those we care about.

With proper understanding about the nature of stress, and with the learning of some essential skills, it is possible to deal with stress in a manner that softens difficult situations and allows the powerful emotions that get triggered to pass more easily and quickly. Breathing exercises, meditation, and regular physical exercise can be very helpful. But it’s equally helpful to have an understanding of the root causes of stress as well as how and why we get triggered.

When we are stressed, many times it’s because our system is trying to alert us that something is not in balance. It is a wake-up call that can help us pay better attention both to what we are experiencing as well as what we might need at that moment to feel more at ease.

Learning to accept that stress is a natural part of life is a useful first step. It’s amazing how many people have an inherent, yet completely irrational, belief that life should always run smoothly. Examining the nature of life and the causes of stress with a clear head is the beginning to turning stressful situations into a different experience. The next step is to become more aware of how and why we get triggered by stress so that it becomes less intimidating. When we begin to consciously understand that the discomfort of stress is often a signal—even an opportunity—to take better care of ourselves, we start to see stress in a whole new light and we can move through it more gracefully.

Think about it: we tend to pay closer attention to important things when we are uncomfortable. When seen in this light as well as with an understanding of the nature of stress and its triggers, stressful situations actually have the potential to be experienced as a good thing!


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