Sometimes the day’s events get to us in such a way that the stress builds up, holds us in its grip and manages to progressively ruin the whole day.
What if we put the things that annoy us – maybe a canceled flight, a dish that went wrong while cooking, a crashed laptop, an argument with someone – and just about anything you can think of – in perspective, where we let go of the hostility they’re causing us?
My Mother was quite the expert at seeing the big picture in tense situations. One of her favorite phrases was “Don’t miss the forest for the trees”. Sometimes we focus on the small details so much that we miss the overall situation. And get stressed.
It is crazy how we get this wisdom only as we grow older. We allow stress to overwhelm us.
Can you ease stress by changing your perspective?
Stress mounts mainly because we place a lot of importance on the thing that causes the stress. And when we are in the middle of it, it is tough to see what actually deserves our stress and what does not.
So what do you do when the stress threatens to get out of control?
Here are two tricks my Mom taught me:
They involve time and space.
Pretend to see your life through the lens of a camera. There are two choices. Zoom in and see minute details of a particular situation or zoom out and see the bigger picture. Does the situation stress you? You’ve probably zoomed in , and what you see under the lens fills your perception. What if you stood back and zoomed out to see other things such as your neighborhood, your state, your country – until the earth looks like a little dot in the universe? From this vantage point, do you see the size of your problem, the one that’s freaking you out? What if you readjusted your attitude towards the problem?
Perspective in relation to time
Use the same camera lens to zoom out in time, just as you did in space. Ask yourself, how will you feel about this stress-causing situation in, say, one month from now? Maybe even a week from now? Now zoom out a few years. Will it matter then?
Each time my Mom’s health took a dip, and she was confined to her bed, she’d hold my hand as we talked. When it was time to sleep, she’d say “If I passed on in my sleep, I’d have no regrets” I’d get mad at her for mentioning the D word. Obviously I wanted her to be immortal. But she’d gently chide me and say “If we allow situations to stress us, they steal the time you should be spending on more meaningful things. So, always step back and see things from a distance and more often than not, you’ll find yourself smiling and moving on”
If someone were to tell us that we only had five years to live, would we not want to do the things that really counted? Self-awareness is a great thing. Being fully awake is even better!
Changing your perspective can change your life.
Some mindfulness practices to change your perspective are:
That’s what mindful living is all about. Give the present moment your complete attention. When you talk to someone, focus on them. No checking email surreptitiously. No phone interruptions.
Do what makes you happy
Life happens, yes. Why not focus on what makes you happy and go do it?
Take time for yourself
Some down time, some slowing down is always good. It refreshes your brain and regroups your energy. Allow yourself a day off from time to time to put things in perspective.
Think before you do
Being intentional makes life meaningful. When you question your decisions you become more aware of what you are doing.
Of course. When you eat, focus on your meal. Savor each bite and be aware of the taste and texture. Enjoy the nourishment.
Just let go of what feels stressful
Sometimes we tend to hang on to so much baggage that we leave no space to breathe. Let go of what does not make you happy. That includes toxic people. Make space for fresh thoughts.