Feeling Stressed? Learn to Calm Your Mind

by Jessica Mishra on September 6, 2011

Stress…I am sure most of us are no strangers to it. We are busy at work, lead hectic lives, have tons of commitments, and are constantly checking technology. Everyone has their story about how stress is a part of their life. In my opinion, unless you have a plan to move out to some mountain paradise or cabin in the woods, you probably won’t be escaping stress any time soon. However, do not fret, there are techniques you can incorporate into your everyday life to help you manage your stress.

Why is it so important to manage your stress?

Oh stress how I hate thee, let me count the ways. Stress does not only make you gain weight, but it can also be very difficult to lose weight when you are under stress. Stress is also a major contributor to digestive disorders, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. Increased exposure to stress can also impact the immune system, making it more likely that you will get colds or the flu. For all you migraine sufferers out there, stress will make it more likely for you to have one. Finally, chronic stress can lead to insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to blood sugar disorders, such as Diabetes. I think you can see how important it is to get your stress under control.

What can I do about it?

I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to start incorporating some form of stress relief into your daily routine. No excuses! Don’t start in a month when you finally take that vacation you deserve, but start now! Seriously, your health and mind will thank you. I would like to share with you a few techniques that can help you battle stress on a daily basis.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice of being completely in the moment with an activity you are performing. For example, let’s take something simple like taking a shower. If you are being mindful, you are not thinking of the 20 things you need to do for the day or the conversation you had with a co-worker that upset you. You are simply present. You notice the temperature of the water, you smell the wonderful lavender soap you are using, you pay attention to the way the water feels as it hits your skin. You are completely in the moment. This is a great practice that you can do in your everyday life. Just try to do it with one task that you perform today.

Mindfulness is also a great way to give your friends, family, or co-workers the attention they deserve. When you sit down to talk with them, be completely present with them. Really listen to what they are saying, get rid of all distractions (yes, that includes cell phones), and give them your undivided attention. Learning to be more mindful and present in your life will help calm your mind, which is turn will not only reduce your stress, but it will make you feel lighter and happier. It is definitely a practice, but you will notice that you are able to do it more and more.

Meditation or Yoga

Have you noticed how active your mind can be? Sometimes it feels like you can’t even shut it off. It is thinking about what needs to get done, it is worrying about upcoming events, or it is overanalyzing some situation that happened in the past. Most of us deal with an overactive mind.

Have you ever noticed how happy you feel on vacation? Is this because you are in a beautiful spot? That could be. However, it is more likely that you feel so happy because your mind has calmed down. You are not worrying about all the details of your daily routine. What if you could be on vacation all the time?

I constantly stress to my clients the importance of some sort of practice to calm the mind. Everyone has to find the one that works for them. Yoga is a great option as you not only learn about how to breathe properly, but you practice slowing your mind down while getting exercise at the same time. I tell people to experiment with different kinds of yoga until they find the one they enjoy. Each type of yoga is different. Some involve more spiritual practices, such as meditation or chanting, whereas others are more exercise focused.

Another means of calming the mind is meditation. Again, there are several ways of meditating. Some people use a mantra, some people say a calming phrase, or others just sit quietly and breathe. There are times where I am lying in bed and I just can’t seem to get my mind to quiet down. I just try to lessen my thoughts as much as I can, and listen to my breath going in and out. Thoughts still pop into my head, but I try to let them pass and just keep focusing on my breath. In no time I feel incredibly relaxed, my worries slip away, and I fall into a restful sleep. Find a practice and time of day that works for you, and just try to still your mind for 15 minutes a day. The rewards will be plentiful.

Get Active

Exercise is probably one of the best ways to reduce stress. However, when we are in the heart of a stressful time, we often neglect our exercise routine. This is the time when we need it most! Even if you can’t do a full workout just get moving. Go for a long walk at lunch or have a little dance party in your apartment or house. Dance is one of the best ways to relieve stress if you ask me. You don’t have to be good at it, just do it!

Also, set yourself up with an exercise plan. You can even schedule it into your calendar. Set your intention to treat it as one of your priorities. When an alert pops up that it is time for you to go exercise, pretend as if it is just another meeting or commitment that you need to attend to. If you have a job where there is no possible time to exercise, you might want to consider what you are sacrificing by being in that job.

Don’t Take Life so Seriously

Be silly, playful, adventurous, or wild! What am I talking about? Just plain get out of your comfort zone. Go take belly-dancing lessons, learn how to cook a new cuisine, plan a last minute trip or conquer a fear. Approach someone you are attracted to and strike up a conversation, even if that is not your style. Just mix it up. Variety is the spice of life!

It is so easy to fall into a routine and let our obligations take over our life. This is where we have to remember that life is not so serious, and remind ourselves to get out there and live life to its fullest!

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