So you think YOU ARE STRESSED? If you share the “butter lament” with my client, yes, indeed you are.  My butter doesn’t melt fast enough is a definitive stress indicator.  I wrote a book on stress analysis, after studying and observing stress for many years….however, I did not include the speed of melting butter in my long list of symptoms.  (See YOUR PERSONAL STRESS ANALYSIS if interested and want to check!)

    But let’s not become distressed about a distress symptom.  Let’s examine it! My client has been willing to begin a process of self examination as a result of her work with me on “mindfulness.” That simply means I taught her to meditate, to do some other calming breathing techniques, and to begin to pay attention to all the signals she was getting from her body, her thoughts, her feelings, and finally from her spiritual sense of self that were indications of her stress level.
    And she’s been doing great! She’s calmer, more focused, more motivated and simply feeling better…until the “butter announcement!”  Regardless, the awareness of butter not melting on toast quite fast enough is a terrific, if unique, signal from her system that she should take a breath, slow down, and PEACEFULLY WATCH THE BUTTER MELT.
    Signals like this one — simply mean “I’m paying more attention” than I usually do. So the negative aspects of this woman executive’s a.m. rush to get out the door for her day was magnified in her sudden awareness of impatience with “the way things are.” It was eye-opening. She was not taking the time she actually COULD to prepare breakfast and to enjoy eating it… to relax and be in the moment. She rushed when unnecessary! And you really can’t rush melting butter…well, I don’t think you can…and I do think you shouldn’t try!
    The point? Take a gentle and mindful look at your day to day habitual behavior…from the time you get up to the time you go to bed.  Where are you and what are you doing when you feel stressed? Who are you talking to? Are you moving through your day faster than necessary and consequently missing some of the “juice of life?”  Are there changes you know you could make that would reduce your stress level? Are there things you would like to change but feel  it’s not possible?
    Do some writing. I know I suggest that regularly and it’s because it truly helps. Get the thoughts and feelings out of your head onto paper. It reduces the intensity….almost as much as talking to someone you trust. Talking and writing about what you feel has a “metabolizing effect.” You chew a bit of the stress up by recognizing and identifying it…. then it’s more likely that you can come up with a plan.  You deserve to feel better, and the months just behind us and those ahead are more likely to pack on  more stress. Winning or losing an election…holiday time with family and friends…all of these things carry an extra load of stress.  Take care of yourself by paying attention to what works and what does NOT work. And make sure you take time to WATCH THE BUTTER MELT!