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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

The counterintuitive cure for stress

The counterintuitive cure for when you can’t relax...

We’ve all been there.

Something happens and suddenly, you feel stressed. You want to relax but nothing seems to work. Sleep, diet, work and relationships suffer…

Eventually, the body gets bored of this and either collapses or spontaneously moves into a different emotional state (the law of impermanence).

But what if you could cure this in an instant?

What doesn't always work:

Most of us address our stress by trying to “do” something to relax. It’s what we’ve been taught since childhood when we got upset: go and play outside; go and watch a cartoon; go and get your *name favourite childhood toy*, etc. In adulthood, this translates into: go and socialise; go and watch TV/a movie; go and do your *favourite hobby*; etc. And these things can help - as a distraction that allows us to take our focus away from the stressful thing or thoughts.

But what if that doesn’t work? What if the stress comes back or becomes worse? What if you can't relax at all?

The miracle cure:

Accept it. Stop fighting it and accept that in this moment, you are simply unable to relax. Acknowledge the tension and stress in your body. Welcome them as part of your present experience of life. Agree with yourself that your circumstances are challenging and that you just can’t find a way out at the moment. It’s OK. It's the way it is. For now.

Take a deep breath. And rejoice. You are a human being.

You are not stressed because you have problems. You are stressed because you are alive.

Take a big gulp of compassion medicine and see what happens...

Then go an do the other stuff if you feel like it.

In the mindfulness world it's called "attend and befriend". It's an advanced meditation practice but if you want to give it a go, here is a 10 minute one co-developed by an Oxford University professor.

I hope this helps and I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions (email

Until next week,


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