In the fast-paced, high-stress world we live in today, it's more important than ever to find ways to manage our stress levels.
Fortunately, as human beings, we have one unique advantage when it comes to stress management: awareness.
By simply being aware of the fact that we are stressed, we can take steps to reduce our stress levels.
For example, we can take a break from work to relax and rejuvenate ourselves. We can also learn stress-reduction techniques such as meditation or yoga.
And if we're really struggling to cope with our stress, we can seek out professional help.
In short, awareness is power when it comes to managing stress.
So next time you're feeling overwhelmed, remember that you have the power to change your situation - all you need is a little awareness, followed by action!
Before we get into the meat of this topic, let’s rewind some basic definitions of stress, that we discussed in a previous article (which you can find by clicking here.)
The stress response is a defensive mechanism of the body, that causes our heart to work faster, thereby enabling us to escape any danger in the environment.
Nowadays, however, stress isn’t really triggered by any predators in our surroundings, as it did when it was evolving.
Instead, modern-day stress is triggered by physical, psychological, and psychosocial factors.
Unfortunately, stress has become chronic in our society and it is the main reason for a variety of health problems in the population.
This is precisely why stress management is an important part of anyone’s daily life.
The Meditative State
A state of meditation is commonly known to be a relaxed and focused state of concentration.
Most people believe that in order to meditate, one must sit in an uncomfortable position for hours on end with their eyes closed while mentally repeating a mantra.
However, there are many different types of meditation with various purposes. In fact, the practice can be done anywhere at any time.
The goal of meditation is simply to focus and connect with the inner self without judgment.
Rather than use words/mantras, some people prefer to focus on their breath and the sensations in their bodies.
In doing so, the person is better able to clear their mind and achieve a sense of inner peace.
While it may sound like a simple task, reaching this state can be quite difficult for beginners.
However, with regular practice, it can become easier to achieve and can be a helpful tool for managing stress.
Simply put - in time, you learn to carry this state with you, regardless of the activity or situation you’re in, up to the point where you don’t even need to close your eyes.
Awareness, Meditation & Stress Management
One of the most important things to know is that our human brains have the tendency to latch onto thoughts and feelings.
Once latched on to them, the brain creates similar thoughts and similar feelings, that ultimately turn into an entire story.
Most of the times, we tend to instantly believe those thoughts and feelings, without even analyzing them.
And these are the exact stories we create in our brains that set us off and keep us stressed.
Once you are aware of that and counter it with a meditative state, you can simply let those thoughts pass through you, without latching onto them.
In doing so, you are drastically reducing the probability of sustained stress occurring.
All you do is approach any situation and stress factor with an open, neutral mind, that accepts that anything can happen (good or bad.)
We can’t always change our environment, but we can change the way we react to it.
With greater awareness of how we react to stress and how it affects us, we can work on managing our reactions and improving our daily lives.
What are some small ways you’ve managed your own stress this week? Let’s discuss!