What to do When Stress Takes Over, Part I
I’ve talked about stress – the good versus the bad, as well as what to do to prevent stress from taking over your life. However, if stress already has a stronghold over you, try the stress management tips below to help you regroup.
Take a Breath
It sounds overly simple to say “just take a breath” – but the power of breathing cannot be underestimated. The next time you feel really relaxed, pay attention to how you’re breathing. You’ll notice it feels very different from the way you breathe when you encounter stress.
When you’re under stress, you probably tend to breath from your chest area. In a more relaxed state of mind, you’ll find your breath comes from your abdomen instead.
Master this simple deep-breathing technique:
- Start by placing your hand on your belly.
- Inhale through your nose slowly, feeling your breath start in the abdominal area (not your chest). You’ll be able to feel your abdomen rise with your hand.
- Allow your breath to work its way to the top of your head, then reverse the process by exhaling through your mouth. Your hand will gently lower as you exhale from your belly.
As you practice deep breathing, you can also use a word or short phrase to help you focus. For instance, you can repeat a word like “peace” or a brief phrase like “I am calm”.
After you’ve mastered this basic technique, there are many other breathing exercises you can work on to help you manage stress. Some breathing exercises are an excellent way to build upon the basic beginner breathing exercise I explained above, while others are geared for a more intermediate or even advanced level.
Reclaim your Inner Peace
When you hear the word “meditation”, do you think of it as being just another thing you don’t have time for? If you do, I encourage you to think again. Though meditation takes many forms and means different things to different people, its benefits are universal.
Meditation is an excellent way to help you get a handle on stress, and its benefits reach far beyond the time you spend in mediation. Long lasting effects of meditation include a better ability to cope with life, a chance to see things from a new perspective, and an opportunity for self-discovery.
As if these effects aren’t convincing enough, meditation can also decrease blood pressure, lower tension-related pain, and enhance your immune system.
If you can spare even five minutes out of your day, try one of these common ways to meditate. Over time, you’ll notice the benefits I’ve talked about above.
Sitting/Silent Meditation is when you meditate independently in a quiet space. This could be a certain area of your home, yard, or even office – anywhere where you can count on being undisturbed for a time. This is your time to soak up the silence. Light a candle or play soft, relaxing music to help bring you into peaceful, focused awareness.
Guided Meditation differs from meditating quietly on your own in that you’re essentially “guided” into a state of consciousness by listening to someone’s voice or to a recording. If you’re looking for an innovative way to try guided meditation, visit Headspace.com, or check out these audio recordings on Chopra Centered Lifestyle.
Active Meditation (my favorite!) can be a perfect adjunct or alternative to either of the two other styles of meditation above, especially if you consider yourself to be an active, energetic person. Walking, yoga, and even dancing are all forms of meditation in action. With active meditation, your aim is to experience a meditative state while you’re engaged in the activity. You’ll probably see your performance and efficiency increase – in many areas of your life.
In my next post, I’ll show you the vital role self-care plays in helping to manage – and master -stressful situations.
What’s your #1 stress-busting tool? When you encounter stress, what helps you reclaim your inner peace? Share your thoughts below!