Stress Relief Isn’t Always About Stress Reduction

Susan Brumbaugh
6 min readApr 27, 2021

Stress is a fact of life, so let’s learn to work with it and drop the struggle.

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

When I lead group meditations, a frequent request is for something to help with stress. None of us want to have stress or be stressed, but it does come with being human, doesn’t it? We all want to be relieved from stress but, of course, it is a reality and everyone experiences it.

By exploring stress in meditation, we can allow ourselves to explore the kinds of things that make us feel stressed, notice the impact that that has on our bodies, and allow things to be the way they are, because we usually can’t change them. But in that space that we create, perhaps we can find ways to behave and act that will bring some benefit to us.

I’m a licensed mental health counselor who enjoys sharing mindful meditations and information about mindfulness. Below is a transcript of a meditation I led on this topic, and at the end of the article, you’ll find a link to the meditation video. In this meditation, instead of struggling with stress, we actually explore the types of things that tend to bring stress, notice what happens in the body, and find ways to function better even when we feel stressed.

Transcript

Let’s take a few moments to acknowledge that we are in the midst of busy times and there are things that need to be done that call our attention, but for this time we’re setting aside a few minutes to focus on what’s happening in the present moment.

Those thoughts will swirl but we’re going to let them swirl — instead of right here in front of our faces — back behind you somewhere. We won’t try to make them go away, but we will see what we can do to make them less impactful, and to keep them from preventing us from taking actions that we know are important.

I’ll invite you to close your eyes if that is comfortable for you, it’s also fine to hold a light gaze in front of you. Let’s begin with a little bit of movement. So many of us spend our time in tense bodies — in positions that we hold for a long time (especially those of us with desk jobs, if we don’t have a standing desk) — and our muscles can become fixed in some ways when they’re unused. So let’s just take a few minutes to move in whatever way would feel…

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Susan Brumbaugh

Susan Brumbaugh is a criminal justice researcher who telecommutes, a licensed counselor, a mindfulness meditation practitioner, and a perpetual learner.