I think the problem is that I tend to practice stress-reducing techniques when I'm actually not stressed at all, when deep breathing and meditation and yoga are much easier to do because I'm not fighting against a wall of anger and frustration.
Today was deeply stressful, and I dealt with it very poorly. I decline to go into detail, because looking back on it, I'm ashamed of myself. The things that I would whine about now are so unimaginably trivial in the grand scheme of things that anyone looking in on what upset me would wonder how I could lose sight of the multitude of blessings I have and focus on these tiny complaints.
The truth is that I am incredibly blessed, even when I feel suffocated by tiny dark clouds. My son was having a bad day, but he leaned on me for his comfort. My daughter got to run in the sun, to play at a park we've never visited before, to laugh with her dad. The weather was beautiful, and we were outside to enjoy it even though our planned picnic didn't quite happen the way it was intended. I might not have been able to photograph the several varieties of beautiful spiders I found today, but I got to see them, to let them crawl on me, to peacefully return them to safe places.
But I failed to see these little beautiful things, to really focus on the positives because I was too caught up in how the day was "supposed" to be instead of letting it shift and change organically. I dug my feet into the sand and didn't move when the tide came in, so I really have no right to complain about my wet legs.
Instead of focusing on how to calm myself when I become stressed, I think I need to simply combat the stress before it even arrives by simply giving up, and giving in. Giving up the plans, giving in to the flow.
When we got home from our excursion today, I was moody and irritable. I quietly seethed to myself as I shoveled food into my mouth, though I wasn't hungry. I let myself be broken, and the worst part is that I broke myself. I will not let myself be broken again; I will prevail.
* * *
Men are born soft and supple;
dead, they are stiff and hard.
Plants are born tender and pliant;
dead, they are brittle and dry.
Thus, whoever is still and inflexible
is a disciple of death.
Whoever is soft and yielding
is a disciple of life.
The hard and stiff will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail.