When stressed, people sometimes use unhelpful methods to reduce anxiety. They comfort-eat, overindulge with alcohol, or attempt to escape from their emotions with distraction. These stress-reducing activities are harmful and engender unhealthy consequences. They plaster over the source of pain with temporary fixes rather than offer long-term solutions. But there are healthier ways to manage stress. Here, Russell Jack, Southland-based yoga and mindfulness teacher, shares a few great ways to manage stress healthily.
Create inner calm
Self-talk reveals your mental state and reflects your fears. It’s useful at times because it helps you avoid danger. But sometimes, it deepens anxiety and replicates your worries. It’s helpful to quieten your inner voice on these occasions. Mindfulness will help you reach a tranquil demeanor and give you a break from painful self-talk.
You don’t need to be an experienced meditator to practice mindfulness. Anyone can be mindful of what they do. When you mop the floor, for instance, focus as you exert pressure and push the mop. Note the cleaning fluid’s scent and the way the floor shines when washed.
Or follow your breath with your attention as you sit. Notice air as it enters your nostrils and goes down to your lungs before it travels up and out of your nose. Recognize how you feel – calm or heavy – and the temperature of the air.
You can be mindful of whatever you do if you engage your senses and stay present at the moment. If unwanted thoughts arise, let them pass like clouds in the sky and return your attention to the task at hand. The idea is to focus on what happens; you stop worrying, and your body and mind relax.
You often create pictures in your mind. You run through scenarios showing what might happen, and your brain presents movies about your concerns. What you see is usually stressful because you don’t wield control. When you visualize on purpose, rather than let wild thoughts flow, you will gain control and stimulate deep calm.
You might picture a beautiful landscape, for instance, or another place you enjoy, making it as real as possible using your senses. If so, you could imagine all the sights, sounds, and other sensations you would experience there.
At the beach, you would hear the birds cry, and waves lap at the shore and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. You may see a vast stretch of sand and the sun as it seems to dip into the horizon and smell the salty air. You could focus on sunlight as it dances on the water and note relaxation spread throughout your body.
Look after yourself, offering the level of love and care parents give their children, and best friends provide for each other. Think of your needs and make sure you meet them. Celebrate when you accomplish goals and successfully deal with challenges.
Praise yourself with positive self-talk and encouraging rewards. Most importantly, be kind. Forgive your mistakes and see your shortcomings as charming rather than annoying.
Engage in acts of self-care too. Take scented bubble baths and listen to uplifting audios, for example. Boost positivity by carrying out your favorite hobbies and watch comedy shows to help feel-good hormones stream.
Deal with stress in healthy ways and your life will improve. Use mindfulness to create inner calm and gain a peaceful mindset with visualization. Also, ensure your subconscious gets the message you are valuable. Carry out acts of self-care and nourishment. Your self-esteem will rise as your anxiety drops, and the challenges you meet will feel manageable.
About Russell Jack
Russell Jack is a yoga and mindfulness teacher from Southland, New Zealand. He specializes in Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong, and guided meditations, helping clients achieve harmony of body, mind, and soul. Russell is passionate about animal rights protection, regularly volunteering with the World Animal Protection Organization and donating to protect endangered species in New Zealand.