Stress as a Teacher


The choir was singing a complicated classical piece, and I had a little solo. During the service, my hands became cold and shaky, my spine started buzzing, and my pelvic floor muscles went into a spasm. As my body tightened up, so did my voice, and it rushed out sounding strained and thin.

My voice, which is full and resonant in the shower, always puts on a weak show in public. It is disappointing that I don’t have control over my body’s stress response, especially since I have learned over the years to calm my mind/body before it escalates into pain.

Then I remembered something I learned during my healing journey. Stress is a message from the body, which can broadcast what is happening in the heart and mind too. During my years of healing from chronic pelvic pain, my body would scream in pain whenever it was stressed. This motivated me to look at what might be causing my stress and to try to work through it so I could be comfortable again. Now my body only reacts when the situation is really emotionally charged, and it rarely escalates into pain. But when my body whispers, I definitely listen.

Stress is a part of life, and it is healthy to avoid situations that are really stressful and to do activities that calm your body/mind. However, stress can also become more that just something to control. By tuning into your body’s messages, which are different for everyone and perhaps subtle, it also helps you cue into what situations are stressful for you. By asking why you are stressed, and looking within, it can give you an idea of your inner challenges- the underlying thoughts and belief patterns that color your responses to life. In this way, stress becomes more than something to control, it also becomes a great teacher.