Sometimes when we go through stressful times, it can feel very lonely. Because stress is a personal experience, we may think that we are alone in our misery, that nobody can help, or that nobody would care to help. Or we may tell ourselves that we shouldn’t feel the way we are feeling, that we should get over it, that we are failing somehow because we find things overwhelming. Maybe, a person close to us directs these very words towards us.
The truth is, when we reach out to other people, we may find out that we are not alone, that others have gone through similar challenges, and that a solution might be available. If we do not talk, how can we discover different viewpoints, how can we find support? Opening up to others may make us feel vulnerable, so we want to choose carefully who to turn to: A trusted friend or relative, a teacher, a community leader, a health professional like our GP or a stress counsellor. Once we have taken this first, huge step, further steps towards finding a solution might be easier.
Attending a yoga class can help us connect with others, not necessarily to discuss our situation but to feel part of a community; to find breathing space; to release tensions from the body through movement; to clear out mental clutter through concentration and relaxation. Joining a club, pursuing a creative interest, and volunteering for a charitable organisation, too, can help us find friendship and distract from our sorrows.
Equally, maybe there is someone in our social circle who is going through a rough time because of stress, redundancy, an illness or mental health issues. We may hold back asking them how they are, even avoid talking to them because we are unsure what to say. Time to Talk Day 2018 produced this pragmatic encouragement to start a conversation. Why wait? Somebody might be grateful for a smile and a simple, honest “How are you doing?”
“When we are confronted with problems, the counsel of someone who has mastered similar problems can be a great help.”
Yoga Sutra of Patanjali 1.37