Stress happens to all of us, how deeply we allow its effects to penetrate us is the difference. Over the years, I have found a way to calm my mind when stressful situations come into my life. Bringing these same things into your life will help you manage stress and navigate those inevitable challenging times ahead.
Life ebbs and flows; and as much as it is important to enjoy the good times, one should be equally thankful for the hard times. In looking back at my own personal hard times, I can say that they have provided more benefit to my life than the good times. Although the good times were good, they passed. It’s those challenging times that change you; they stay with you, forcing you to grow from one challenge to the next. When you’re faced with another tough situation, take a deep breath and find a way to be thankful for the pending positive outcome that is to follow.
Here are my top three tips for reducing stress and getting through those hard times:
As Cliché as it is, breathing is a great place to start. Simply clear your mind of every thought and feel yourself breathe, follow your breath and think about its path. Feel it entering your nose and mouth, follow it through and feel your lungs fill up, feel your belly expand a little, then follow it back out. As you exhale, imagine expelling any negative energy; inhaling positive energy with each new breath.
DE-PERSONALIZE & LEAN IN
This is the step where you have to act as the guardian of your “self”, your inner-self or your heart. You must physically neutralize the threat to yourself, by de-personalizing the situation. When you depersonalize it you can de-construct it to be less painful than it seems. Stressful situations, are happening around you, they are not to happening to you. Taking on the victim role mentality will get you no-where. Be a warrior when faced with adversity. “Leaning in” is a term used by one of my favorite authors (Pema Chödrön. She encourages us to lean in during hard times and face life’s challenges, not to run away in fear. De-personalizing the situation allows you to lean in without blame or emotion and see the situation clearly. Only then can you make the best decisions for yourself.
Meditation is not as easy as it seems. Being as active as I am, I found walking meditation to work best for me. Walking meditation allows my body to be moving while I calm my mind. Simply walk either in your home or outdoors and take notice of all the things around you. With a light gentle gaze on the ground in-front of you, feel the texture of the surface you are walking on, feel how your feet interact with it. Notice the sounds you hear, any sensations on your skin, such as a cool breeze. Thich Nhat Hanh says to “walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet”. When your mind begins to wander into thought, bring it back to the present moment and focus on any of the aforementioned sensations. If you still cannot calm your mind, try a mantra, a saying or a quote that resonates with you and gives you strength.
Keep breathing and remember; “This too shall pass”.