How to deal with stress by creating more space
I recently read a great article about how to deal with stress and was introduced to a concept that has really helped me to decrease it. White Space.
“White space is the space between our loads and our limits. It’s the gap between rest and exhaustion. It is the space between breathing freely and feeling as if you are suffocating.
White space is one of the secret ingredients required to love your life.” Debra Smouse
I researched it and found these definitions on wikapedia :
Whitespace or white space may refer to:
- White space (visual arts), portions of a page left unmarked
- Space (punctuation), the space between two words of text
- Whitespace character, a computer character for the space between words
- White spaces (radio), allocated but locally unused radio frequencies
- White Space (management), an area where no one is responsible
- Whitespace (programming language), an esoteric programming language
Unused, unmarked, unspoiled unoccupied space.
Many of the people I work with who are stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed are perfectionists overachievers and workaholics. Some are not, but they have different ways of keeping constantly busy and distracted from their present experience. When they think about how to deal with stress, they think about how to maintain their current lifestyle instead of changing it.
The one thing all these people have in common is that they are truly unaware of how their patterns of living in the world create their unhappiness. Also, they have no white space.Learning how to deal with stress consists of recognizing this pattern and what it really is.
If you ask busy people why they are working so hard, why they are constantly taxed, and stressed, and why their children are over scheduled, they seem genuine enough. They believe they are working in all areas to better themselves. That they must keep up the pace they have set to be successful and have what they want. They believe it is necessary to work hard ,to get money, to get the things that they and their family deserve. Sometimes they just believe that staying busy and exhausted are a status symbol.
Yet upon closer scrutiny we find most of their lives are spent this way, unhappily striving towards something they think they need to be happy while being unhappy in the present. In fact, often, what appears to be driven by noble goals and values is really just a strategy to avoid being present in their lives. They and we are unaware of this truth. Actually we are unaware of this truth because they are really us. Most of us live this life.
While working to create the life we believe we want we are miserable. We use keeping busy, or distracted, as a way to numb ourselves from emotions,thoughts, and situations that are uncomfortable for us. In the process of doing this, we numb ourselves to joy as well.
Which brings me back to white space. I like this concept, and particularly as a way describe moments of presence. While I like Debra’s use of the term, I have a different take on it. White space can be moments and experiences we carve out to be present. Small ones such as moments at the bank, while waiting in line, of for a friend for dinner when we don’t try to fill the space with email checking, list making, or preoccupied thoughts about the future or past. Moments where you do one thing at a time and do not multitask.White space can also be longer moments where you carve out time to be in nature, pray, meditate or just sit.
Moments of white space like this, moments of mindfulness, peace, calm, pause, silence, can have a dramatic effect on your life, mind, relationships, and health.
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