3 Top Tips For When You're In A Stressful Situation
“Just relax”, they say. Relaxing is easier said than done when the stress levels are high!
Stress is a product of anxiety, both of which are primarily experienced when we immerse ourselves in the future and allow fear of the unknown to consume us.
To reduce stress, we must bring our focus from the future to the present, to let go of things that can’t be controlled, and to be fully in the reality of now. This is called mindfulness, and there is lots of scientific research behind this spiritual practice and its ability to reduce stress.
Here are three top tips to shift you from stress to serenity super fast.
Breathe deeply. Sounds cliché, but oxygen to the brain cells is essential. Taking a minute to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths can be a quick solution to calm down and stay focused on the task at hand.
Breathe in and out through your nose if you can. Mouth breathing is what you automatically do when you are anxious and your sympathetic nervous system is activated. We want the body to switch from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system and begin to reduce the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.
Mindfulness of Breath Practice:
Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Breathing through your nose, take a deep breath in, drawing it all the way down into your abdomen. Hold it for a second, and then slowly let it out through your nose. Try to make the inhalation and the exhalation the same length. A good starting length is three or four seconds. As you get used to the practice, you can increase the number of seconds incrementally until you reach seven seconds. Repeat for 10 breaths. When you have finished, open your eyes gently and see if you feel any different than before you practised.
Taking a minute to practice meditation can enable us to gain perspective and banish stress. The mindful breathing exercise above is a type of meditation, where we use the breath as an anchor to the present moment.
Body Awareness Meditation:
Another take on mindfulness meditation is body awareness. Take a few breaths and when you are feeling calm, bring your attention to your body. Notice where you can feel your breath in your body - the physicality of your breath. Do you notice it in your chest or abdomen? Can you feel the breath as it enters your body, maybe around the nostrils or down the back of the throat?
Next, bring your attention to the feeling of your body against whatever is supporting you. Your chair or bed, or the floor. Feel the weight of your body pressing down, and the surface of the object pressing up - the connection between the two.
Lastly, bring your awareness to the feeling of substance touching your skin. Can you feel the texture of your clothing on your skin? Perhaps you can notice a light breeze if the window is open? What about the temperature of your skin? Maybe it feels warm inside your clothing, but the parts that are exposed like your face, hands, arms may feel colder?
The simplicity of focusing on our breath and feeling the weight and sensations of our body can be really grounding and help to focus the mind.
Guided meditations are a great way to begin with meditation. There are some fantastic apps available which guide you through meditation with a steady voice and calming music. My favourite meditation app is called Insight Timer. Features include a customisable timer for self-guided meditation practice, a whole plethora of guided meditations, and even audio courses on all aspects of personal development and spirituality. And in case you're thinking that listening to a guided meditation seems too long for a quick-fix relaxation tip, there are meditations on the Insight Timer app that are just one minute long! Anyone can find one minute to meditate.
3. Positivity and Gratitude
Where focus goes, energy flows. As soon as we focus on the stress, it worsens because we allow it to consume us. Like attracts like - it is the Law of Attraction, one of the most fundamental universal truths. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of the situation, which will elevate your stress levels, appreciate the positive aspects. Or, if there are no positive aspects, practice gratitude for other positive things in your day and your life in general. Practising gratitude is the fastest way to raise our vibrational frequency and shift us out of the negative emotions.
How to Practice Gratitude:
Bring something to mind that you are grateful for. Even if you can only think of something very small, for example, your morning cup of coffee or the fact that the sun is shining today, that is enough. What matters most is that you do feel grateful for it, and you can feel that gratitude in your heart. Focus on that feeling, and allow it to fill your heart space. Then, let it radiate outwards to fill your entire body with gratitude, raising your energetic frequency and shifting you into a more positive and relaxed state of mind.
Feeling stressed isn’t worth your energy, and can be extremely detrimental to your health. Therefore, learning how to manage it is a valuable skill. Next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, remember these exercises. They can all be done anywhere, anytime, in as little as one minute.