It is impossible to exist in the world of smashed avo, yoga, cold pressed juice and millennial #selfcare without having come across the concept of mindfulness. Many of you might already incorporate a mindfulness practice into your daily lives, or even turn to meditation to help ease the all too familiar 21st century ‘stressed out’ situ, but it’s important to include mindfulness techniques into your daily lives as well as during those obligatory 10 mins on the Headspace app first thing in the morning.
Reports on how damaging stress can be for our bodies and how it can form or worsen many modern day maladies linked to chronic inflammation crop up in the news with increasing regularity. From IBS symptoms to life expectancy, we’ve heard it all and we know that stress is bad news.
Yet it’s easy to get fed up with doctors and newsreaders telling us that stress is bad for us, because for many of us it’s really, really hard to reduce the stress factors in our lives. Our jobs, our family commitments, our attachment to our smartphones and just the fact that we’re ‘highly strung’ are all working against us. We have commitments and responsibilities and can’t just swan off to the Caribbean to zen out for 2 months and then pick up where we left off. So what do we do? We do alarming amounts of yoga and pilates and we bake sourdough at the weekends because appaz the time and patience involved with sourdough making is relaxing…(definitely heard that somewhere), and expect our stress to just evaporate.
But it still gets us despite our best baking efforts, and rather than powering through the stressful moments thinking “it’s fine, I know I’m overworked and anxious but I did a yoga class this morning so actually I’m fine,” why not try this simple step by step method to calm and ground you in every moment that needs it:
- Know that you’re not alone.
Stress and worry can often feel isolating. Lying awake at night you can sometimes feel like the only person awake in the world with so much worry pressing down on top of you. Well, you’re most likely not the only one. Take comfort in the fact that we all struggle to be happy and calm 100% of the time.
Recognition is half the battle. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, but acknowledge it and don’t try and carry on as normal until you feel more calm. Pushing through stress and forcing it to the back of your mind is a sure fire way to wind up more worn out in the future. Take some time to sit quietly with your eyes closed if you can, just focussing on your breathing until you feel more level headed. Take audible breaths, and make the exhale longer than the inhale. This stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to calm down.
Try and think about what it is exactly that’s causing you to worry. A big meeting tomorrow? Kids? Your health? Which direction you want to go in with your life? Whatever it is, once you’ve isolated it, accept the fact that in that very moment (unless the problem is that you have run out of milk and you actually happen to be in a supermarket), you probably can’t fix it right away.
Set a time in your mind, even put it in your calendar, when you’re going to earmark some ‘you’ time to fix this problem. It might help to write all about it in a journal, make mind maps and bullet points. Get creative and get thinking, but above all, don’t stress!