My niece Casey and Brian her new husband are visiting this week.  A getaway vacation and honeymoon all rolled into one!  And although she has been here once, it is Brian’s first visit.  Their lives are so different than mine, which a lot of that has to do with the age difference.  But there is also raising a blended family with three boys all around 4 to 5 years old! That is something that I cannot even begin to imagine.

We’re having a lot of fun and interesting conversations.  But the one that really stands out for me is about stress!

Casey mentioned that she gets headaches a lot.  She’s not sure why.., but they occur almost daily.  Brian say it was probably stress.  However, from Casey’s perspective her life is low stress.

I am inclined to agree with Brian!

What is interesting is how we all minimize the stress in our own lives, even though it appears to be so easy to see it other people’s lives.  Raising kids has to be stressful and they don’t even have to be in the same room or house with you!  Oh and BTW.., it doesn’t go away when they turn 18!  Every parent I know still worries about their children, regardless of how old their kids are.  The parents may hold back their opinions, insights or guidance (unless asked for!).., but that doesn’t mean they don’t have them.

Then besides raising kids, we have partners or spouses, parents, siblings, relatives and friends who most of us are invested in or worry about.  Jobs, money, health, and relationships.  Yet, because these are situations that never go away, many of us don’t think about them being the stressors in our lives.  We love them…, how could they be causing us stress?

Stress is emotionally based.  And how we process and deal with our emotions determines how effectively we deal with stress!  If we are constantly stimulated by emotions, yet have no way to release the impact of them, they become denser. They become physical.  If we are not letting our emotions be expressed and released, we are holding them in.  We are stuffing them.  And the only place we have to store these unexpressed emotions is inside of us.  Inside our physical bodies.  Can you say dis-ease?

So how do we release these old stuck emotions? To find the answer to this, I reached out to a psychologist who runs stress management classes nearby. And in my dealings there, I saw what is rehab like and saw a whole new world within the four walls of the rehab. But I digress.

First and foremost we own them!  We all have our natural go-to emotions that are part of the way we navigate our daily lives.  Some of them in direct conflict with one another.  Some of us are happy and optimistic, with another aspect that is fearful or worried.  Some of us are wounded and angry who also know peace and contentment.

Regardless of what emotions we are feeling, if we are willing to identify and express them, we begin to take ownership. We begin to create awareness and relationships with our own emotions.  We begin to develop a fluency with our emotions.

I know personally I use to fear my own anger.  I always felt if I ever gave into it or started to express it, I would never be able to stop or control it.  Anger became an unacceptable emotion for me.  One I vowed to never express.  Until of course it would seep out in some unhealthy way, usually in a situation that was out of context with the level of rage I was unleashing!

The truth is anger is a natural emotion that when expressed without shaming or blaming someone.., can actually build intimacy.  But you have to be willing to own it.  And that is just one example of an unexpressed or stuffed emotion that can cause stress!

Once we begin to see our emotions as a natural part of our human experience then we recognize them as the fuel for our existence.  Instead of burying them, we allow them to inform us about what resonates with us and what doesn’t.  Once we build a relationship with our full range of emotions, then we can seek out healthy ways to release and heal those that are causing us stress!

I am hoping that vacations to Arizona will be one of the ways that Casey and Brian decide is a good way for them to relieve stress!

With Light, Love, and Laughter