Got stress? How surprising! Reports of increasing stress are exploding around the country while recent studies indicate that stress may be one of the leading causes of disease and lack of well-being. The hyper-connectedness most of us experience from the intrusion of 24x7 technology, coupled with the demands and challenges we face in everyday life, leads to the perfect stress storm.
No matter how stressed you might feel, no matter how debilitating the pressures you are under, no matter how monumental the hurdles you face, there is always a part of you that remains absolutely fine and at peace. Finding that oasis of peace seems to be the challenge.
As this series on moving from Self-Talk to Soul-Talk has been suggesting, you always have a choice about which aspect of yourself to entertain. You can follow your Self-Talk, that part of you associated with your negative beliefs, fears, and limitations, or you can find your way back to that deeper part of who you truly are, your Soul-Talk.
The problem, of course, is that in the frantic pace of hyper-connectedness, it's not always easy to find that quiet voice of your soul calling you into a greater state of balance and wellbeing. Up until now, that is!
GPS for the Soul: Your Guide Back to Who You Truly Are
Today, National Stress Awareness Day, The Huffington Post, in partnership with bLife and HeartMath, is announcing the launch of "GPS for the Soul," a remarkable new idea that can help you find your way back and reconnect with your deeper essence. Initially, the GPS for the Soul page will focus on advice, thought and experiences that you can use to help find your center when things go nuts out there. This new page will provide everything from music playlists that can help soothe jangled nerves over to mini-meditations to help you connect with those deeper aspects of yourself -- dare we say, with your soul.
But that's just the beginning: Later this spring, the GPS for the Soul app will launch as well. That's right, an app! Counter-intuitively, in the midst of hyper-connectivity, technology can actually help free us from the stress and mind-numbing nature of non-stop constant access. This new app will help you notice when your stress levels are rising and provide help in getting back on course.
Just as a GPS system in a car helps recalculate your route, GPS for the Soul will help you notice when you've gone off-course. And it will provide instant, on-demand feedback to help you course-correct. Since no one knows better than you what helps you de-stress and find your balance, you will be able to customize that feedback, programming the app to send you just what you need to course-correct. It might be soothing pictures, relaxing music, breathing exercises, guided meditations, or yoga instructions.
Here's a couple of little tricks that I use when I get bent out of shape or succumb to the ever-present stress, tricks that I will readily embed in my app when it's released. At the simplest level, I sometimes just look at a picture of my little nine-pound schnauzer, Sadie. Sadie doesn't know how to be stressed -- she just lives in joy.
And I often find listening to a specific playlist from my iTunes account helps. I frequently listen to this playlist when working on something that requires focus and might otherwise be stressful. It sure does help! My list is a simple mix of music that brings me back to my heart, and it looks like this:
Another tip could be something as simple as a breathing meditation. Between the GPS for the Soul page on HuffPost and choices that will be available on the app, you will have the ability to call up any number of mini-meditations. Here's one I use that only takes 2-3 minutes but produces a profound effect. When I combine this little practice with my playlist, things get even sweeter.
You might want to try this one yourself. If so, then read these simple instructions through, and then give it a go:
1. Sit comfortably, or lie down.
2. Close your eyes.
3. Notice how your body feels and what part of your body feels tense or stressed out (neck, shoulders, stomach, legs, etc.).
4. Focus on your breathing and notice if you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm or more shallowly from your upper chest.
5. Move your breathing more deeply, more slowly.
6. Breathe in through your nose to a count of 4 or 5.
7. Exhale through your nose to a count of 4 or 5.
8. Repeat this rhythmic breathing for 2-3 minutes.
9. Open your eyes.
10. Notice how you feel.
If you are like most people, you may find that you are feeling more relaxed than when you started, more balanced and more at peace. You may not be perfectly at peace, and yet you may be better off than when you started.
If so, where did that peace, relaxation or balance come from? Where did you have to go to find it? The obvious answer is that it came from within you. The nice part is that it is always there, and that all you have to do is focus inwardly, and you will begin to experience a bit more relaxation, balance and peace, right here, right now.
Imagine doing this little exercise a couple of times a day. That might be a great experiment -- just try doing this 2-3 times a day for 2-3 minutes each time for a week. If you do this each day for a week, when you look back on the week, you just might find that the week was characterized by a little more peace and a whole lot less stress than "normal."
Will you ever be "stress free"? Unlikely. However, with just a little practice, and perhaps a little help from GPS for the Soul, you may find that you can return to a state of balance and harmony a lot more quickly when you find you are off course.
Imagine doing just a bit of this for a month. For several months. How about for a year? If you looked back on your life after a year of this kind of regular focus, what might you notice? My experience suggests that you will find a life with a lot more peace, balance and harmony in it.
Your GPS for the Soul just might be one of the most important apps you ever used.
I'd love to hear your take on this subject. What would you like to see on the GPS for the Soul page? In the app? What have you found to be helpful? Please do leave a comment here or drop me an email at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.
If you want more information on how you can apply this kind of reframing to your life and to your job, about a few simple steps that may wind up transforming your life, please download a free chapter from my new book, "Workarounds That Work." You'll be glad you did.
You can buy "Workarounds That Work" here.
Russell Bishop is an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, Calif. You can learn more about my work by visiting my website at www.RussellBishop.com. You can contact me by e-mail at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.
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