Stress management

Written by Amie on February 19, 2009 – 1:20 am -

This Too, Shall Pass

I would like to offer some tools for managing stress. There are so many people that are feeling stressed right now that I thought it would be helpful to mention some of the things I do when I am stressed.  My mantra for the last year or so has been, “this too, shall pass”. When I have been in an especially dark depression, I try really hard to remind myself that this too shall pass. It is not always easy, but the more I have this mantra available, the better off I am. If I think about all of the difficult, stressful, anxiety ridden times in my life, I realize that they did pass. Some things took longer than others, but they eventually did pass.  When we are in the middle of a stressful time, it seems like it will never end, but it always does. Life is always changing and shifting.  Knowing that it will pass can offer some comfort.

Breathe!

The next very important thing, and maybe this should actually come first, is to take a deep, slow breath. Breathe in through your nose slowly, hold that for a few seconds, and then slowly release the breath through your mouth. Do this as many times as you need to. Try to concentrate on the air that is passing through your nose and then feeling the breath on your lips. This is a good practice to do throughout the day. If possible, see if you can get to a place of feeling grateful for the breaths that you are taking.

Stay In The Present Moment

Anxiety and stress are made much worse by thinking about “things that could or might happen”. When you are feeling stressed, focus on the breath, and then ask yourself if you are projecting into the future or possibly going back to the past. This creates more anxiety. By focusing on our breath, we can stay right here in the present. When I find myself following a thought,  I stop, focus on my breath, and then I picture my thought flying away from me, through the sky on the wings of a bird. You can use any visualization that works for you. There is no right or wrong. It is all good! The great thing is, we have our breath, and the ability to stay in the present, with us at all times. There are no items or other material tools that we need to have in order to lessen our feelings of stress.

Nurture yourself

As soon as possible, do something to nurture yourself. Take a bath, go for a run, listen to a favorite song, meditate, sit in your car and breathe, whatever makes you feel nurtured.  Keep reminding yourself that this too shall pass, and focus on your breathe.  If possible, grab a journal or a piece of paper and write about your feelings. It is always a stress reliever to get our true feelings out. I personally, go to a therapist  in addition to journaling,  because it helps me to talk about my feelings. Some people need this, some don’t. Journaling is an excellent way to relieve stress. Stress can feel bigger than us if we try to ignore the fact that something doesn’t feel right within us. I know that when I repress or deny my truth, I become depressed. I think this is true for most people.

Changes?

Once you are in a better state of mind, you can start to think about whether or not there are things in your life that need to be changed, or if the stress you are feeling is temporary and just needs to be felt and left to iron itself out, so to speak. If you think there are some changes that need to be made, it helps to write things out so that you can see your thoughts. It is easier to brainstorm possible solutions when you see them written out. It also helps to talk about your feelings with someone that you trust to just listen. If you need someone to just listen, and not offer advice, it is ok to ask them to please just listen, I just need to be heard and validated.

Thoughts versus facts

Remember that it is not the situation that is causing your stress, it is your thoughts and ideas about the situation that are causing the stress. By projecting our thoughts and ideas about  the situation, we cause ourselves stress. So, always try to look at the actual facts of your situation, not your thoughts about your situation. These are two very different things.

Eckhart Tolle says,  “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”

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