We live in a society that seemingly moves as fast as a lightning bolt and changes just as quickly. Therefore it’s no surprise that many of us start to feel overwhelmed and disconnected from their own body and mind. Stress is an issue of our economy that should be taken seriously. And even though sometimes it’s out of our control how much stress we experience we should still at least be able to keep its effect to a minimum.
I had the pleasure of attending a workshop focussing on the topic of self- and stress management through work and was given rather valuable tips on how to create a less stressful environment for yourself and try to decrease stress symptoms with easy exercises that can be included in your daily routine. I figured that this new knowledge would be useful for you as well so I decided I’d share the techniques we talked about with you.
Causes of Stress
Many believe that it’s ourselves only who cause the stress within our minds, making our heart rate increase. But there are multiple factors that cause us to feel stressed and anxious.
It’s not only our mind that makes us feel stressed, our environment immensly affects our mental health as well. Within our job or uni life we often experience times during which the pressure put on us increases or when the demand for performance is immensly high. Some people have the talent to be able to work well under pressure, for many others situations like these are predestined to cause discomfort and effects such as exhaustion, insomnia and anger.
Living in the „Now“
An issue of our society and the way our minds work is the fact that most of us don’t really try to experience the „Now“ but already put themselves and their minds into future situations, tricking the mind into feeling behind and stressed about it. An example: When we’re on the road and end up being stuch in traffic, we immediately think of the consequences aka being late for an appointment or work. What happens is that our mind jumps ahead to where it would and should be without the traffic jam, putting the body and mind into a state of stress.
In order to help relieve the tension of the situation it is very important to be aware that even though the current situation is unfortunate, you personally still can’t do anything about it other than simply accepting it. Sounds hard? It is. Our trainer continuously reminded us that calming one’s mind is down to training and constantly reminding yourself to change your perspective.
„Accept the situation and live in the present“
Breathing the Stress Out
Breathing is a seemingly automated function of our body and something we do from the days we’re born until the day we die. But even though it comes to us so naturally we still tend to do it wrong in numerous situations in daily life.
Breathing helps us keeping our body in balance and by concentrating on our breathing pattern and consciously inhaling and exhaling we can make a difference in how we feel and re-connect our body with our mind. Simple breathing exercises can improve your concentration and you ability to focus.
I like to refer to this exercise as the humming bird because what you do is close your eyes, inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth, making vibrating humming noises. The sound is meant to have a calming, soothing effect and take the mind’s focus away from stress factors bothering you.
It’s not a myth that slow breathing is a stress reliever. Breathing in for four seconds and breathing out for six helps doesn’t only help your body to focus, it also takes away built up tension.
Stick to a Routine
Especially in the morning we take way too little time to really settle into the new day. Most of us rush out of the house and off to uni or work and don’t give ourselves the time we need to properly wake our mind. Therefore, creating special routines for yourself is very important in order to reduce stress and anxiety. Waking up at the same time everyday is already a good start but letting yourself ease into the day is just as important.
Try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than usual and add five minutes of meditation to your morning routine. You don’t even need to get out of bed to do that. Just sit up straight in your bed, put on some relaxing music and try to envision the positive things you have planned for this day. It doesn’t need to be something big, it’s enough if you tell yourself you’re looking forward to your morning coffee or an afternoon spent in the sun. Your body will reflect these positive thoughts and will provide you with enough endorphines to start into the day. Don’t forget that meditating correlates with proper, conscious breathing.
If you’re not a fan of mediation or morning yoga, try to at least have a cup of coffee (or any kind of favourite beverage) in the morning while being sat at the table. I know that many aren’t too keen on food in the early mornings but even having a glass of water in peace already helps. It’s a bad habit to have your breakfast on the go as it suggests your body that you’re in a rush, causing stress.
As individuals, we all have different things that keep as grounded and calm which is why it’s important to really dive into you mind and figure out what makes you feel better individually. There is only so much someone else can suggest you but you yourself know best what relieves stress. Routines, breathuing and meditation are just one tiny part of the big scale.
What’s important is that we need to start living in the now more and not let the „tomorrow“ scare us.