7 Stress Management Tips That Take Soul Seriously, 1
At times like the Holidays, it’s common to see the appearance of lists of stress management tips. And no wonder! It’s a very demanding time.
Stress management tips often seek to help us “cope” with stress. This post looks at stress from a /a-midlife-transition or Jungian perspective. It focuses a little more at human depth — what /a-midlife-transitions mean when they talk about “soul”.
The trouble with many “coping strategies” or “stress management tips” is that they don’t really deal with root issues. They can feed a desire to keep doing exactly what we’re already doing, but just “turn the symptoms off” — the pressure, the anxiety, the depression. Hopefully these tips go deeper.
1. Minimize Mass Media and Social Media
Mass media can very easily be a source of stress. The mass media often use peoples’ anxieties to induce viewership and buying behaviour. Consider this little vignette as a prime example:
Clearly, it’s intended to be funny and “an exaggeration”, but what is this advertisement really telling us? That we should be putting pressure on ourselves to “make the holidays special” — and the only way to do that is to spend.
The advertisement above is a mass media ad, but the same kind of messaging regularly permeates social media.
2. Don’t Let it be About Stuff
This is a truth about all of life, but it takes on particular importance at Holiday time.
A dominant message in our culture is that the only way to have a good or worthwhile life is through the accumulation of wealth.
Of course, there’s a natural human desire to “make the Holidays special”. It’s a fundamental, even archetypal dimension of human experience to identify certain days as special, festive, even sacred time. Yet, very many cultures are quite able to do that without the obsessive accumulation of gifts, decoration, food, entertainment — and debt — that our society now takes as the norm for the Holidays.
I think that we need to be honest and admit that in our culture, there is a very strong collective pressure and message: you are not being a good parent, friend or partner unless you have “the right” Christmas, “the right” gift and ‘the right” sort of holiday.
What about using the holidays — and our lives in general — to connect with ourselves, and with the people we love?
3. Listen to Yourself
A key way to get beyond killing stress levels in general, and especially at the Holidays is to start to engage in discernment. We need to get beyond the conscious and unconscious collective pressures and messages about what’s important, and listen to our deepest selves. This isn’t easy: it’s time-consuming, requires careful attention to our inner life, and appropriate help, like /a-midlife-transition.
Here are three key ways to do that.
Listen to your body. We can be totally driven by stress, and yet be quite unconscious of it. We can learn a lot about our stress from examining our bodies, and coming to understand the places that it shows up. Do you have tight steely muscles in your neck, for instance? That’s likely stress. Can you determine what’s causing it?
Pay attention to your feelings. This can be our emotional states, which we may not even be aware that we have (see “Listen to your body!”), but it can also be much subtler feeling states (“I like this; I don’t like that; this makes me feel like…”). This stuff is often the very rich reality of ourselves.
Pay attention to your dreams. You may need to get help with this, but there are many things you can notice from dream reality that relate to your stress level.
Depth case studies offers much that’s relevant to stress management, but it’s rooted in insights about our real individual identity and the deeper self.
In Part 2, we’ll look at numbers 4 to 7 of our /a-midlife-transition stress management tips.
Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst