Remembering to Open the Valve on the Pressure Cooker

I began the rough draft of my blog about stress last week before I left town. I was gone for 5 days and my experience while on the road was a mixture of great peace, followed by quite a few stressful moments. My drive to Kentucky was safe, uneventful, and pleasant. The evening I arrived, I had dinner and hung out for a while with a very dear friend. This young woman, who is awake and alert, always contributes to my sense of well-being. The next morning I had breakfast with two more friends who  are filled with light and peace.  So, my journey started out in a positive state, but as the day progressed on Sunday it quickly went downhill.

Boy, am I stressed

Without going into a lot of detail, suffice it to say, that I was presented with many opportunities to look at how I react to stressful events, places, and people. Sunday afternoon, and Monday and Tuesday, played out like a comedy of errors. It was Wednesday morning before I was able to find a quiet place to breathe, go within, and start to make sense out of all that transpired.

What I learned is how easy it is to slide down the slippery slope of tension and reaction when I’m in negative, dark situations. I lose my sense of balance, and before I know it I’m caught up in the negativity that surrounds me. When that happens, my ability to focus on the light within diminishes, and I find myself in a fight or flight moment. If I’m in a place I can leave, I do, if I cannot, I start fighting.  When I wind up fighting stress, the result is a weakened self and total fatigue. By time I got home on Wednesday, I was so drained I had to lay down and take a nap. Today is Saturday, and I’m still feeling the effects of stress in my body. I’m taking it easy while I love and nurture myself back into a state of well-being.

I clearly see that no matter how much I know about myself, and how to deal with stress, it still can creep up on me and overtake me. When that happens I feel like I’m in a pressure cooker with the valve closed. Since I’m in the process of de-stressing, this is a good time to remind myself how to open the valve so the steam can escape. I write about what I most need to learn or remember, so here’s what I was reminded of last week.

My first lesson to remember is that there are energy vampires out there. These are people, who due to their own lack of light and consciousness, feed on others light. When I see a vampire, I don’t need to spend time looking for a silver cross to slay their darkness, I just need to keep my distance. I have a habit of approaching vampires thinking I’ll be okay because I’m spiritually strong, only to remember later that vampire energy can be powerful, and when I’m not paying attention, I get wiped out by it. (No, I do not believe in real vampires.)

My second lesson to remember is to find a quiet place and take a few deep breaths while doing the thymus thump. The thymus gland, located about 2 inches below the collarbone in the middle of the chest, distinguishes cells as a friend or foe, and exports T-cells to destroy foreign cells. The thymus helps fight infection and disease, and is one of the first organs to be impacted by stress. Under stress, ignoring the body’s needs can become a habit, and it can weaken the immune system. The thymus thump is done by tapping on the area, or pounding it with a clenched fist. Dr. John Diamond points out that the smile muscle, the zygomaticus major, is directly connected to the thymus gland, so I smile and say ha-ha-ha while thumping. See for more information on the thymus thump.

My third lesson to rememberis  to re-frame the event. Sometimes I get caught up in the event, and I forget that I can re-frame it. What re-framing involves is changing the way I look at what’s happening. When I can do that, I get to change the experience. Through re-framing I can turn a negative event into a learning situation.

Some of the methods I use for re-framing are:

I examine my thought process about the event…can I change the way I’m thinking about it?

I journal…many times, writing about an event or a person helps me to focus on what I need to see.

I breathe and purposefully drop my shoulders and relax my neck…on purpose, deep breathing from the belly, enables me to get quiet within so I can view a situation or person in peace, instead of in turmoil.

I bless the person or event…the simple act of blessing someone or something, many times changes my perspective.

I talk to myself and say, “Stop”, or “Slow down”. This is especially good when I”m caught in traffic, and I need to get somewhere. I remind myself to just take a deep breath and enjoy the scenery, or take a few moments to relax. I purposefully unclench my hands and drop them to my lap. It is amazing what a difference this simple little act will do for your body and your mind.

I accept what is at the moment…can I change what’s happening, or do I even need to change it? If not, simply saying a prayer of gratitude and acceptance can change the event.

I get up and stretch my body or go for a walk. This is a good stress reliever.  I stretch by bending back as far as I can go, then by bending forward while trying to put my hands flat on the floor without bending my knees. I do this 2 or 3 times. If the tension is in my neck, I turn my neck from one side to the other, slowly, and as far as I can. I then bend my head forward and hold it there for a few seconds, followed by leaning my head back as far as I can. Taking a short walk outside while paying attention to nature can be relaxing also.

Stress is a part of life, it’s universal, and it’s not all bad. There are healthy stress levels, called eustress, which sometimes protects us and mobilizes us when we’re in danger.  Good stress can add flavor and zest to life, and it can motivate us to try something different.  We can compare levels of stress to guitar strings. Each string is a different size and requires a different amount of tension. Tightening one string too much will cause it to snap, and if the string is too loose it will make a different sound.

It’s important to watch that stress does not elevate to the point where we experience chronic fatigue, insomnia, bruxism (grinding our teeth while sleeping), memory loss, and burnout. When we do find that we’re experiencing too much stress, it’s good to practice using one or more of the de-stressors listed above. As you can tell from my story about what happened last week, sometimes I forget to re-frame or do the thymus thump, and I wind up getting caught in the quagmire. When that happens, all I know to do is regroup and get myself back on track. Hopefully, next time I find myself in a negative, dark situation, I’ll remember what I already know, and I’ll stay focused and maintain my peace.

My prompts last week were pad and storm.


About brendamarroy

blogger, and author
This entry was posted in Consciousness, healing stories, inspirational, life musings, Making choices, personal, Reflections, spiritual and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Remembering to Open the Valve on the Pressure Cooker

  1. gingerclub says:

    Thank you Brenda,

    You pointed out so neatly what stress can do to you and how you can cope with it. The advices are great. Another way to cope stress is simply to prevent it through awareness. Planning you trip in advance, “forseeing” events in your mind, decluttering your life including old emotions which we don`t need anymore.
    The best advice you gave is really to stay away from vampires, they are everywhere. If you we can not avoid them, we should focus on something positive. I liked your term re-framing. All this is also an integral part of my beat blood pressure seminar with plenty of exercises.

    Peace, Ellen

  2. brendamarroy says:

    Thank you. I think we all breathe shallow when we’re under stress. Just knowing it’s what we do puts us a step ahead of the situation. Just think of all those people who don’t know they’re breathing shallow.

  3. Hermionejh says:

    I may have said this before, but I notice that I breathe shallowly when I’m under stress, and if I remember to take deep, slower breaths, I feel more calm.
    I enjoy your writing and topics so much. Thanks, Brenda!

  4. Betsy says:

    Terrific post, Brenda. I learned years ago that when I putmyself in someone elses hands, like a pilot or traffic conditions, I’ve basically said I hae no control of the situatoin. That lets me turn off the wrinkle-producing stress thoughts.

    • brendamarroy says:

      Thanks Betsy. You’re so right. Giving up control and going with the flow is the answer…I just need to remember it. Sometimes I’m good at it, and sometimes the pressure builds and before I know it, I’ve forgotten to breathe and give it up.

  5. Jen Church says:

    I know the Vampires you talk about. What I find hard is to identify the negative energies before you get caught up in it. Something I continue to work on…stepping away or rethinking your train of thought is great advice YaYa! see you this week, can’t wait for my full one HEARTY hug!

  6. Rosemary says:

    A very good message. We are living at a time when everyday can bring some form of negative stress be it social situations, people, etc. Knowing how to deal with the stress, ward it off before it becomes injurious to us both mentally and physically is of paramount importance. Thanks for the very helpful advice. Namaste

    • brendamarroy says:

      Hi My Friend,
      Thanks for the comment. You’re so right…the lesson is in recognizing it in time to ward it off before it hits home and in the gut. Love and Namaste to you also.

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