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In this new post I’d like to introduce the core mindfulness tools that can help you deal with stress and anxiety. Part of efficient stress management is to have a self-help kit of valuable tools accessible to you at any time, so you can always count on yourself to take responsibility for your own happiness without feeling overpowered by an inability to act.
Crisis and stress belong to our daily lives. We think it shouldn’t be that way, but the truth is, we need them. Most often than not, we come out of a crisis feeling like an important positive change has taken place in our lives despite all the hurt, pain, and struggles. We feel more aware of ourselves, experience life more intensely, and most of all, see ourselves in a better place than before.
Stress Means Change
A crisis always means we are at a crossroad in our life. It is the exact moment of experiencing the culmination of a situation just before it is about to change. Meaning, things are about to become different from what we’re used to.
But since we usually like to stay exactly where we are because it is comfortable and easy, this moment of ‘things-are-about-to-change-drastically’ puts pressure on our system. We have to confront facts that we like to suppress, and have to make decisions that are long overdue. Stress in this sense is really just a symptom. A symptom of resisting this process of change. Consequently, this kind of stress as a symptom comes with other symptoms like increased heart rate, anger, anxiety, or tension.
The truth is, however, that nothing in life stays the same forever. Everything changes eventually. The big question is though: How do we handle it?
Are we going to tumble over the edge into misery and suffering? Or are we taking it as a chance to be more intentional with our life and find a constructive way to move on?
Mindfulness can give us tools to be more relaxed in the face of our daily crisis, and reduce long-term stress.
But what are these mindfulness tools exactly?
Mindfulness in itself is a tool. It is an attitude of openness, curiosity, and being present in the moment. Mindfulness enables us to see the world, the respective situation, as it is, and not how we wish it to be. We can genuinely look at things and decide from there on out how to handle everything. We reach a certain degree of objectivity towards ourselves with which we can view the situation as an unbiased onlooker instead of being sucked in and overwhelmed by our own emotions. Subsequently, we are more able to find coherent and harmonious solutions that are in tune with our own self-worth.
Related Post: 7 Mindless Habits and How to Change Them
Meditation is a mindfulness tool that leads to inner balance and mental clarity. It increases our abilities to resist stress and relax more easily. We get to influence our thought patterns that are often destructive. Through focussing on our breath, we can stop processes in our minds that cause trouble and drama. We can intervene before they even start taking over our emotional focus.
Having compassion means developing an attitude of caring and gentleness towards others and especially ourselves. It is especially important during our day-to-day routines. Compassion enables us to take care of ourselves in a loving way. We can communicate with our environment based on respect and acceptance, so we get to have closer relationships with others and really feel connected, as well as heal old inner wounds by overcoming our inner adversaries. And on top of that we reduce stress by avoiding involvements that end up in drama.
If you want to do additional reading on the topic of compassion I can also highly recommend this book by Kristin Neff: Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
What does patience mean to you? What do you do when you feel like you’re losing your cool? And how do you feel when you feel absolutely at ease with yourself and full of patience? It might be worth to try to observe yourself in these moments to figure out how you define patience for yourself and where your boundaries lie.
Give yourself room to let things be the way they are. Sometimes it is not necessary to judge everything in terms of good or bad. Let the things unfold when their time has come. Just be aware of how you feel in those moments and observe. Maybe that’s all you need, the focus on yourself, to stay patient when you feel like things are becoming hairy.
When do you feel accepted? In what kind of moments can you see yourself accepting others or yourself? In what kind of moments can you not? Try to define your boundaries and see if they could maybe be rearranged. Maybe you can broaden them, or maybe you need to narrow them down.
Let things be the way they are and act from a place of inner balance. Try to develop an attitude of acceptance purposefully and intentionally. Acceptance is not about judging. It is about entering a situation as a neutral observer. See if that’ll change anything for you if you keep doing it for a little while.
Is it easy for you to let things go or do you struggle to not intervene? Give yourself enough space (not just mentally, but also physically) to liberate yourself from things that you feel overwhelmed by, entrapped by, or hold on too much to. Try to observe what kind of feelings that evokes in you. Can you breathe more easily? How does the quality of the situation change?
Be gentle with yourself. Everything has its place and purpose. Don’t be too hard on yourself. I find it easier to let things go, if I tell myself that there is a purpose for everything. Sometimes I just don’t see it right away. However, I also tell myself that once the time is right, I will be able to discover it. Everything has a reason to be just the way it is. And somehow that helps me to rest easier and I feel like the burdens of life are a little lighter and can actually be lifted off of my shoulders.
We always have a choice. We have the power to decide what to do with the hand that we’re dealt. Even if we find ourselves knee-deep in a swamp of suffering, we can always decide to try to find a way out of it. Yes, we can get help, and there will be outstretched hands that want us to grab the offered support, but ultimately, we have to take the first step ourselves. We have to decide whether to get out or let ourselves be swallowed.