Contemplating stress energy
By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on December 8, 2015

anna withrow in Pigeon

Anna Withrow in Pigeon

Everyone’s goal is to live a happy, healthy, productive life that has meaning.

Stress gets in the way.

“Stress not only refers to the physiological stress response but to all the elements of our lives we perceive to be interfering with our thriving.

“The problem is most people vastly underestimate their resources to meet a challenge,” said Anna Withrow, owner of Yoga Bird Studio, Fort Myers, and a Certified Stress Management Coach.

Start rethinking stress, and reclaim your life.

Your emotions are not valid indicators of reality.

You can choose to categorize a stressor as a threat to be feared or a challenge to be embraced, but your choice will have little to do with the problem staring you in the face.

Whether you feel threatened or challenged in any situation is going to rely on patterns established long ago.  These patterns evolved according to that stuff in your mind, and, if unchecked, you will continually react to that stuff, consciously or unconsciously.

It’s the stuff of the first chakra, the root energy center, the source of your groundedness or lack thereof, and it’s shaped by your earliest life experiences.

Perhaps there are just two fears:  fear of not having enough and fear of not being enough, Withrow suggests.  And this triggers stress.

What happened a long time ago that’s really causing your stress response now?

As you lie in Pigeon Pose, remember whatever happens, you’ll handle it.

Only certain stresses can or should be eliminated.

Withrow reminds all students that being a human comes with suffering.  It’s just not possible to reduce all of your stress.

And why would you?

“A low-stress life doesn’t correlate with happiness,” she said.

Challenges manifest throughout a meaningful life experience, a life lived in accordance with purpose.

The trick is to eliminate irrelevant stresses, stresses that have nothing to do with your personal fulfillment and self-actualization.

Attachment is the source of stress.

Worry is meaningless attachment; it is a false sense of control.

You’re attached to your children, your job, your money, your body, your house, your reputation, your friends.  Whenever you source your happiness to anything that can be taken from you, you are living in a state of attachment.

That’s no way to live because the only result is non-stop anxiety and fear of the lurking Red Zone.

“What if I lose everything?”

You will.

Your children will suffer, people will die, you’ll get fired, you’ll need more money, someone will always hate you for no reason (or for good reason), your possessions will fall apart, your body will age, you’ll get sick and people will drift out of your life.

If you’re not attached, you’ll handle it.

Start with Withrow’s three stress meditations.

Take Stock of Your Resources.  Withrow suggests brainstorming or free writing about everything you can bring to the table in the face of challenge.  Set modesty aside, she warns.

Think about:
Personal physical resources – health, strength, stamina, etc.

Personal mental and intellectual resources

Personal emotional resources

Your character

Beneficial relationships

Monetary and other material resources

Write about your values.  Stress often explodes when you act against your core set of values.

“Offer yourself the peace that comes with being clear about your values,” Withrow said.

Begin with a four-word inventory of guiding principles or concepts that resonate with you.

Intellect. Freedom. Movement. Landscape.

Connection. Joy. Teaching. Learning.

Start aligning, and let your four words be your mantra.

Success with Stress Journal.  Keep a journal of moments when you excelled in the face of challenge, rose to the occasion and called on your resources.  Include pictures and little mementos and revisit these victories.

“Remember these moments of thriving are a glimpse of your true self,” she said.

You’ll know whatever happens, happens.  And you’ve always handled it.


Withrow recommends three great books:  “The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living,” “The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It” by Kelly McGonigal, and “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” by David Allen.

Visit Withrow’s website at