Managing Stress with Mindfulness
Have you ever seen that funny saying, "Stressed backwards is Desserts"? If only dessert was the cure, I would never stress a day in my life.
Anyone else with me on that??
But sadly, delectable sweets are not the answer.
Stress happens each day and comes in a variety of forms. It could be work, family, internal struggles, finances, school. Unfortunately we can’t avoid it. But good news here: we can do a better job recognizing it and then managing it with habits that take little to no effort—just intentionality.
Our bodies are well equipped to handle stress in small doses, but when that stress builds up and is left unmanaged it can have serious effects on your total wellbeing. And if you try to suppress or ignore it, it can quickly get out of control and start negatively affecting your life.
Now, before we talk about managing stress, let’s briefly talk about noticing it.
Everyone is different so therefore your symptoms of stress will also vary. A few of my personal indicators are acne breakouts, hair loss (I'm talkin' chunks of hair will come out in the shower), dull consistent headache, loss of appetite, and extreme fatigue.
Again, everyone is different so here are just a few other symptoms to be on the look out for:
Inability to concentrate
Anxious racing thoughts
Trouble learning and retaining information
Depression or general unhappiness
Irritability, lack of patience, short temper
Frequent crying spells
Feelings of isolation and detachment
Clenched jaw, grinding teeth
Nausea, dizziness, light-headed
Chest pain or tightness in chest
Muscle spasms or tension
Weight gain/loss without change in diet
Good news though, my friend, all of that can be avoided with simple mindful habits.
So now, onto the million dollar question: how do you manage stress?
Based on my past experiences, I try hard to stay on top of how I’m feeling and not allow the toxicity to build up. When I'm on top of it, I can manage stress moment to moment. But if I let it build up, I eventually hit a wall and see those symptoms.
That's when I bust out this sure-fire routine to de-stress and begin to feel immediate relief:
STEP ONE: Make time.
This sounds obvious, but be honest with yourself here: how many times have you felt “off” but you just push through or you shrug it off thinking it will pass on it’s own. The key is to ⭐️pay attention to the signs⭐️ that your body and mind are firing off.
Trust me, it's important. You know it is, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this article.
In case you need any more motivation, check out this fact below. You have to be intentional about managing your stress, otherwise it will be detrimental to your health.
STEP TWO: Set a timer and go into a quiet space.
A timer is helpful for the next step and ensures you don’t try to cut this precious time short, and also, so you don’t lose track of time. I usually go anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on how stressed I feel.
When you think you can’t find a quiet space, hide out your closet. I’m serious, friend. I’m not giving any advice that I don’t follow myself.
STEP THREE: Deep breathing.
This mindful habit right here is big—HUGE. Deep breathing decreases stress and increases calm, instantly. You see, when you become stressed or anxious, your brain releases a toxic chemical called cortisol, the “stress hormone.”
By taking deep breaths, your heart rate slows, more oxygen enters our blood stream and ultimately communicates with the brain to relax. Deep breathing also ups your endorphins, the “feel good” chemical.
Simply focus your breath for a few minutes.
Or, if you'd like a little more guidance, you can follow this deep breathing meditation.
Source: Intention Inspired
STEP FOUR: Be kind to yourself.
I’ve come to realize that the worst bully is in our own head. I used to be so dang hard on myself when I felt overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious. I had this unrealistic goal of always being perfectly calm, sane, and balanced 24/7.
That’s unrealistic, friend! Stress is natural for all humans.
It’s the ones who learn how to manage it who find the ultimate peace.
So the next time you feel stress welling up, don’t be so hard on yourself. Gently remind yourself it’s natural and then take a positive step forward by picking up a tool to help you decompress. That's what we call, #growth 🌱
There you are, my dear. A quick and simple mindful habit to help you manage your stress.
Remember, stress is hard on your mental and physical health and can have many detrimental effects on your body. All you have to do is become more conscious of when it arises so you can properly manage and work through it.
Hopefully, this post gave you some motivation and direction on how you can go about doing that.
Take good care of yourself,
P.S. What are your favorite ways to reduce stress? I'd love to hear them... Let me know below in the comments!