Image credit: Gustave Doré’s illustrations for the fourth circle, Date’s Inferno
The way we process stress depends on our internal psychological landscape.
It is true that some people are born to bear stress in herculean loads while others develop illnesses under lesser pressures.
So which are you and why are some people better at dealing with stress?
Stress is defined as: “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”- Oxford Dictionary.
How our internal psychological landscape handles stress, is partly governed by nature and partly by nurture. The nurture part of this equation is created when we, as children, learn through observation how our primary caregivers manage stress.
The nature part is made up of the sum of all psychic parts, personality, temperament, quality of mind and soul, the old and new together form the unique synergy that is you. In astrology, these parts of the psyche are represented symbolically by the position of the planets in your chart.
So how do we know who does what with stress?
Fire signs and people born with Ascendants, Midheavens, or luminaries in fire signs will naturally be able to bare stress better than all the rest. But too much stress and fire signs rage and burn out.
People who have luminaries, the cardinal cross or significant personal planets in water signs are prone to psychic disturbances during times of stress. This takes the shape of emotional upheavals, lack of clarity, a disquieted mind, poor decision making, neurotic/ paranoid actions. Earth signs are inclined to develop an illness or suffer from burnout or low immunity.
Air signs under stress, are inclined to experience dullness, lack of creativity, restless sleep and feelings of despair. Air, like fire, is better suited to stress than the other elements. In fact, astrological fire and air predominance are best suited to vocational positions of high stress but too much stress is axiomatically not good for any element!
At times, stress is healthy for our development, psychological maturation, and productivity. Long term it is damaging to our health, quality of life and soulfulness. There is such a thing as functional stress, the kind that gets you to finish that deadline in time, and dysfunctional stress, the kind that has you suffering from flu for the second or third time this year.
What defines stress as functional or dysfunctional is perception. Perception governs your ability to process and manage your stress. Some stress can be minimized or stopped by making different choices or changing a lifestyle. The other types of stress you can’t run from forever. Thus, it is with you till circumstantial changes take place. These are the stressors of the relationship with an unpleasant neighbor or fellow employee, the stress of smog in the air or pollution in the sea. These types of stress are best managed by processing them differently. In simple terms, we can’t run from worldwide pollution, delete stressful ex’s we have children with or move jobs or houses everytime we have a discordant stressful relationship. These types of stressors are cumulative and cannot be avoided or changed externally without creating the pattern of running from anything that looks like trouble.
We are each hard wired differently, in consulting an astrologer you can find out how you are hardwired and what will be the most beneficial activities for you to reduce your stress levels.
There are no quick fix, cure-all remedies, that don’t involve heavy sedation. There are no remedies that don’t involve insight and consistent personal work and investment.
Real remedies, remedies that work long term with the least harm involve changing your perception and improving your coping mechanisms. Coping mechanisms like yoga, meditation and enjoying relaxing activities that calm and feed your soul- are often easy to include into your life. Walking, watching a sunset and playing with a pet are all scientifically proven to reduce stress.
Perceptions define how we experience things. Perceptions are often formulated most prominently by our caregivers in our formative years. Engaging in personal therapy is an excellent way of finding out about the origin of your personal perceptions; it is the nurture aspect of the stress equation mentioned in the beginning.
An example of a shift in perception is to begin to perceive the contemptuous employee as potentially ‘an unhappy person’, which allows you to feel compassion as a pose to threat and stress.
As mentioned above changing our perceptions involve consistent personal work, investments, and insights. These are the real gems that change the way we perceive our lives and lower our stress levels. For perceptions, we can’t immediately change there is a need to constantly take part in stress reducing activities.
Laura Selena is a qualified Astrologer and Student of Psychology