How to reduce stress
I daily receive questions from my clients and students about mindfulness, meditations and other mental practices I do myself. It is not a secret that I chose my profession because I had 4 episodes of suicidal depression in my past, my mum had it, my grandmother had and literally died because of severe depression. When I was 16 I saw clearly that mental health is a top priority but my genetically predisposed for anxiety limbic system did not let me to accomplish many of those goals I set to myself. I wanted to train my brain to stay calm and be able to take perspectives without
being swept away by worries, rumination, and rage.
SO! that's what I personally do and why!
I do practice mindfulness for many years and meditate twice a day (sometimes more if needed). I exercise daily and take a walk outside in order to connect with nature. I do 10 breaths exercise when start feeling anxious or start ruminating throughout the day. I keep watching my mental narrative (what we talk about ourselves) and deliberately correct it any time I slip into negativity or become self-critical. And, finally, I always remember about biofeedback loop (ex. change your posture, start smiling and your brain will start thinking that things are going better).
These simple practices helps to:
- overcome distracting and self-defeating inner voices
- reduce stress (and associated toxic stress hormones)
- take different perspectives and build up on empathy and compassion that improve my social relationships with others
- reflect productively on challenges (as a third party observer not being swept away by often irrational emotions)
- make decisions faster (and take full responsibility for each)
- focus on the task at hand better
- spend less time accomplishing tasks
- simply increase positive emotions
I keep a journal: I devote 10 -15 min a day to write everything that is on my mind down and then dip into meditation free of worries or at least with fewer worries.
Sometimes I just allow my mind to wander for a certain period of time: let's say 15 min with no restrictions. Usually, it stops wondering very quickly.
Another exciting technique is imagination (manageable day dreaming). I let my imagination to take over and allow myself to fully dive into a pleasurable dream and then come back and fully focus in the particular moment but with much greater mood, calmer mind, and improved focus.
The point is that there is no one-trick-fits-all thing. It's important to try and keep doing. One day one technique can work, another day - another technique. It's very useful just to keep doing and stay persistently optimistic. Following this advise you can master anything you want from mental habits to particular work challenges and tasks. And another thing is it is important to remember that life is just a game/adventure. We play various roles and go through various levels of the game. There is no such thing like a failure. Just lessons and learnings. So, there is nothing to be worried about. All is fun. It's very important to remember.