Cultivate Joy as an Antidote to Stress

Cultivate Joy as an Antidote to Stress

by Christina Grant

There are many changes going on. From the power of the internet to new electronic devices, from weather and nature to the world itself, we are witnessing momentous times.

Sometimes the change can be overwhelming. It can touch us on a very personal level, emotionally, mentally, and even physically. Change brings stress, which can be felt even through minor infections and colds.

Cultivating joy is a powerful antidote to the stress of change. Through the energy of joy, your immune system can overcome just about anything and you will find yourself enjoying life despite external events.

One occurrence causing some folks stress is watching our collective shadow as a nation emerge. As this happens, it becomes more difficult for us to maintain our comfortable worldview. It also is more challenging to ignore our own individual shadow, which is the “dark” part of ourselves we try to hide and pretend doesn’t exist.

As a nation, our shadow holds judgment, blame, self-righteousness, racism, secrecy, and fear (among others). While this shadow gets illumined for us and the world to see, it is our opportunity as individuals to look within and witness our own shadow.

What about your own self do you keep hidden away? This becomes part of your personal shadow. It’s not always easy to see, but when we can answer this, we become more conscious and wise. Our relationships become healthier. We are more able to add our light to the world, rather than our darkness.

For those of you willing to take a look at your own shadow, addressing the inner self is key. One way is to begin healing the damaged heart center, also called the heart chakra. Everyone has suffered heart wounds which can prevent the heart chakra from flowing in a healthy way.

Compassion and understanding for ourselves and for people who hold differing beliefs filters through the heart chakra. Love for others and for our own imperfections is its domain, too. But how often do we find ourselves participating in negativity and fear instead of heartfelt love? At these times we have lost connection with the true self, the higher self, the more wise and divine self.

Stress and the rapid changes of life can be more easily managed when lost or hidden parts of the self are brought together, heart chakra damage is repaired, and we step into the more soulful self, thereby reconnecting with the nourishing energy of love. This activates a sense of well-being, which leads to joy.

Here is one easy way to cultivate more joy in the midst of change. Notice how you feel in the center of your chest. Easy and flowing? Healthy? Tight, constricted, or closed off? Breathe slowly while focusing your attention on expanding and softening the area around your heart center (the center of your chest at your sternum). Continue to follow your breath in this way for a few minutes. You’ve just taken a powerful first step toward healing your heart chakra and alleviating stress.

Christina Grant, PhD is a holistic healer, counselor, and writer living on the Central California Coast. Learn more at

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