In my previous post I suggested we can make friends with our stress. Crazy idea, but totally do-able. How?
We could waste a lot energy trying to change things that stress us, and often we won’t be able to change the stressor. A better approach is to focus on what we can do.
Here are my personal tried-and-true steps to manage stress…
1. Learn to recognise the signs of stress for you
For me it’s tight neck and shoulders, an upset stomach or loss of appetite, and not sleeping well. Mentally my mind is a busy and sometimes I feel anxious. There are constant thoughts of feeling overwhelmed, I can get cranky or just withdraw.
Developing awareness of the signs of stress on all levels will help us take the helpful actions we need to bring balance.
2. Release accumulated stress
Most problems stem from accumulated stress over a period of time. We need to treat this first. Using specific yoga techniques we move the body to release tension, we breathe to relax and develop a longer calmer breath, we soothe the nervous system and pacify the mind.
3. Develop super strength to face stress
Whilst it might feel good to rest and relax in times of high stress, and perhaps this may be what we initially need, we also need to make ourselves strong to deal with life challenges.
Yoga provides plenty of tools to increase our energy, make our bodies stronger, build confidence, resilience, and improve the functioning of our physiological systems (e.g. immune, endocrine, nervous system).
4. Change your attitude
Taking a leaf from Dr Seligman’s book, we can develop our ability to face stress and be more aware of how we perceive stressful situations. The practice of mindfulness and mindfulness meditation helps us to recognise and observe our thought patterns.
We connect with our inner resources and see things more clearly, becoming more accepting of what is, and flexible and adaptive in the face of the constant change and challenge. We can learn to respond in helpful ways rather than reacting. We can reduce our suffering.
5. Make the time for your health and wellbeing
You don’t need to become a monk and meditate for hours on end or do 2 hours of yoga to receive the benefits. It could be a simple as 15 minutes after work doing a few key yoga postures to release tension from the day, or a 5 minutes breathing practice in bed to start the day with a calm mind.
Yoga is flexible and goes with you anywhere – it’s knowing what you need and what is the right application of yoga at that time. Think about rescheduling some of your time spent on Facebook or surfing the net to make time for yoga.
We CAN take charge and empower ourselves with the ability to deal with change, to learn how to cope more effectively and reduce the impacts of stress on our lives.
Try them out – I would love to hear how they work for you.