You may think that relaxation and peace is something that is only accessible to other people….not you.
You may have lived for so long now in some degree of stress and tension that you cant even remember what it feels like to feel relaxed and still. Well I get that I really do. I guarantee you that you are not alone. If you are reading this article, chances are you are aware of and want to escape some kind of stress in your life.
The good news…… the absolutely awesome news in fact is that you are reading this article. You are aware of something and you want to change it. Peace, clarity, calm and contentment ARE accessible to all of us. For me it wasn't one particular thing that helped but lots of little habits that I developed slowly but surely over time.
We wasn't born stressed or negative as babies. We learned stress and tension over time. Through observing the adults around us we gradually learned to function and react to the world by tensing the body, holding the breath and thinking fearful or angry thoughts. Thats the second piece of good news because if we can learn to tense, we can learn to relax.
What I want you to know is that there is no one answer and no quick fix. Just as it took time to develop our stress inducing habits until they became our predominant state, it will take time, repetition and new habits to move in the opposite direction.
“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” - Eckhart Tolle
I have come a long way from high anxiety and panic attacks to who I am now and I have a long way that I can go.
Here are some of the habits that helped:
Habitually check in - I cannot stress this enough. If we are unconscious of something we have no control over it. It owns us! The moment you are aware of something you have power over it. Form the habit of checking in with yourself. Set one or two triggers in your day and build upon that. For instance check in with your body every time you go to make a cup of tea. Do a body scan, become aware of your body, spot areas of tension and start to relax and let them go. Each morning as you walk into your workplace, notice your thoughts. Check in as often as you can remember, keep going until its automatic. As you become more and more aware of how your body and mind are reacting to your world you can start to make changes.......
Breathe - Mind, body and breath are deeply connected. Effect one effect the others. As you start to become more self aware, notice your breath. We all interrupt our flow of breath as we encounter stressful situations and thoughts. We hold our breath at the top or bottom, we shorten the breath, we speed our breath up. As you encounter this - STOP - let go and breath through it. Breath in and give your body the oxygen and nourishment it needs. Breath out and let it go - the negative thought, the tension, the need to control.
Conscious letting go - As you become more aware of where you habitually hold your tension, breath out, and as you do let those muscles go. Spend a few breaths throughout the day teaching your body to react to stress and challenge with relaxation. Get to know your main triggers. Is it driving, answering the phone, reading the news, getting on the train? There may be many so don't become overwhelmed, just make a start and tackle them one by one. Repetition will form new habits. Tight muscles and tension does not make you safer or help you cope.
Monitoring thoughts - your thoughts effect your breath and your body, so this is very important. What you think you feel and how you feel (i.e. fearful) manifests itself in the body. By monitoring the thoughts we cut the stress of at the source! As with the breath and body set trigger points in the day and start to notice the kind of thoughts you have during those times. I like to start with my morning shower I watch what I am thinking as I start my day. Notice, but don't give too much power to each thought. A thought can be changed and only has as much power as you give it. What kind of thoughts are you having as you drive, as you park, as you work, as you walk in the door, as you deal with your money. Most of us, especially those of us who have high levels of stress, are terrorising ourselves with negative self talk.
"Every single second is an opportunity to change your life, because in any moment you can change the way you feel." – Rhonda Byrne
Affirmations / replacing thoughts - As you start to notice negative thinking patterns you can begin to replace some of those thoughts with more nurturing ones. Eventually these new thoughts become habitual thinking patterns too. You get to choose your thoughts. Why would you choose to terrorise yourself. You would never talk to your friends or family the way that you often talk to yourself on the inside. Talk to yourself the way you would like to be spoken to by the people around you. Nurture and support yourself from the inside out. For example if money is a source of stress and you catch yourself thinking I cant cope, there isn't enough, I never have enough money. Find an affirmation to think that FEELS BETTER TO THINK. It may be: “I do have all of my needs met right now. I have always had enough money for food, a home and a car. I trust life. The universe loves and supports me. I know that I deserve good. All is well right now.”