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Excuse #1

I’m too busy to do a regular stress management practice

Excuse #2

I’m too tired by the end of the day to do one more thing

Excuse #3

Sound Familiar?

We can find a lot of excuses not to practice stress management, but overtime those excuses turn into barriers to our health and well-being. Take time to examine what might be standing in your way and explore some possible solutions.

When we sink into the practice of being still, boredom is often transformed into contentment

The Stress Management Prescription in Ornish Lifestyle Medicine is 1 hour of practice a day. This hour includes practice with all of the five techniques including postures, breathing, relaxation, meditation and imagery.  Research shows that those who do more than an hour (in addition to adherence in all the other modalities) get more reversal.

It can be easy to talk ourselves out of doing what is good for us. When we stop putting our health and well-being first, it takes some positive reframing and some gentle redirection to find a way back to our healing path. The first step is to recognize and name the barriers we encounter to our daily stress management practice. It is then that we can begin to implement strategies to overcome them.

1. Assess Your Practice

Begin by honestly looking at your stress management practice. What does it look like? How much time are you spending? What techniques are you using? Have you completely drifted away from your practices or are there some pieces still intact? What parts do you or did you enjoy the most?

2. What Practices Have Most Helped You?

Reflect on how stress management practices have been helpful to you in the past. You may want to list some of the benefits you have noticed and post them in a place where you can be reminded of them. This gentle reminder often provides enough positive reinforcement to call you back to your mat.

3. Write Down Your Barriers

Write down the barriers you experience that keep you from practicing regularly. Consider some solutions.

Here are some common barriers and some possible solutions:

I’m Too Busy

  • Reevaluate your priorities—your health and well-being depends on it.
  • Get up a little earlier to start your day off with a more spacious feeling.
  • Use stress management to wind down before bed for a more restful night’s sleep.
  • Cancel other activities, and downsize your goals to make time.
  • Delegate or ask for support to free up time for your practice.
  • Schedule it into your day like you do for all important appointments.
  • Arrange your life around your stress management practices rather than trying to fit stress management into your life.

I’m Too Tired

  • Refresh yourself by doing physical poses.
  • Regular relaxation practice improves sleep as seen in this study.
  • Figure out why you are tired.
  • If you are tired because of not exercising, start moving.
  • If you’re too busy, plan less and reassess your goals.

I’m Bored.

  • Vary your stress management activities and do more of the practices you enjoy the best.
  • Use a variety of audio or video classes (Explore this free set of stress management practice videos).
  • Sameness, consistency and familiarity can be reassuring.
  • Focus on deepening your practice—not changing it.
  • Recognize that boredom can be a by-product of over stimulation. When we sink into the practice of being still, boredom is often transformed into contentment.
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These are just a few of the common barriers. You may relate to some of these and you may have others that are unique to your experience. Take time to examine what might be standing in your way and explore some possible solutions. When considering solutions rest assured that you have your own answers. When we search our own hearts, the answers will often arise from a place of inner wisdom. We have an “inner knowingness” that guides us when we inquire with reverence and humility.

4. Write A Commitment Statement

One final step is to recommit yourself to your practices with earnest resolve and dedication. This can be done by writing down a recommitment statement and reading it out loud or to someone you love. Much like a resolution or intention (see Shape Your Thought to Shape Your Life) let it resonate in your heart and mind.

When you find yourself making excuses for not practicing stress management, revisit these steps and start fresh.

What barriers to stress management have you experienced?


Contributed by

Susi Amendola
Stress Management Specialist

What have you done to remind yourself of the things that have meaning for you?

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