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    Tend To Yourself Thursday {6/13}: Overcoming Stress & Anxiety By Redefining Progress

    As we approach the summer solstice, let’s explore its symbolism of harmony, balance, and flourishing as it relates to our experience of stress and anxiety. One way I like to support a balanced mindset is by busting common misconceptions about what it means to make progress on our healing journey and set realistic expectations so we can set ourselves up for success. 

    A common misconception about stress and anxiety: the belief that the goal is to never experience them again. Many believe that overcoming stress and anxiety means eradicating them entirely, but true progress lies in changing our relationship with these feelings.

    Redefining Progress: Progress is not about the complete absence of stress and anxiety. That would mean you’re no longer living! Instead, it’s about becoming more resilient, less reactive, and more accepting of the natural ebb and flow of the human experience.

    I recently had the honor of concluding therapy with a client who beautifully exemplified this kind of progress. As we reviewed her journey, she reflected on what had truly helped her transform. For a long time, she would get triggered and caught in an anxious state. Meditation, breathing exercises, etc. didn’t work because she used these as a way to change what she was feeling and make it go away. When she stopped approaching anxiety with fear and urgency, and approached it with mindfulness and compassion she was able to shift. Her words, “instead of trying to change how I feel, I notice it, acknowledge it, accept it as it is, thank it for how it’s trying to help, and see it as a physical sensation I can work with. When my reactive state has passed, I can explore it with curiosity, rather than beat myself up for having it.”

    Key Strategies:

    1. Noticing: Simply observing feelings as they arise.
    2. Accepting and Allowing: Letting the thought or emotion be as it is.
    3. Relating to Physical Sensations: Viewing emotions as physical sensations in the body we can tend to like physical pain.
    4. Curiosity: Understanding what these anxiety might be signaling about needs and desires.

    By incorporating these strategies, you can begin to navigate stress and anxiety with mindfulness and compassion. If you need support on this journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out.