We often view stress as something negative and something that we should avoid experiencing. Yet like most things, it is all about balance, how we perceive and therefore how we deal with stress.
We need a healthy amount of stress to get things done, as well as it being an integral mechanism for survival.
However, when our excessive thoughts and feelings start to activate the sympathetic nervous system – our fight or flight response – our stress reaction is activated. Our thoughts are literally creating fear and havoc in our bodies: this is the mind-body connection.
Over time, if we continue to elicit the stress response by overthinking, particularly worrying thoughts, stress can start to influence negatively the digestive, respiratory, immune, cardiovascular and endocrine systems! Consistent high levels of stressful responses can cause discontent, depression and all kinds of ailments, from: insomnia to high blood pressure, or anxiety to IBS. This can also affect our environment and everyone else around us!
So how do we combat these intrusive worrying thoughts that cause the stress response, generating also distress all around us? We need to create space in the day to stop, come down from the restless mind, and get back into the present moment.
On this purpose, there is a very simple Mindfulness based technique that can be incorporated into your daily schedule:
Stop what you are doing. When we are rushing around, trying to multitask, the mind will also be very active and strong. When we physically slow down and stop what we are doing, even if for a short period of time, there is already more spaciousness e perspective.
Take some long and full nasal breaths. Conscious breathing positively influences the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and this in turn helps to calm our minds.
Observe your feelings and reactions, your bodily sensations and watch whatever is arising, without any judgement, or desire for it to be different. If you are feeling anxious, heaviness, sadness, its OK, just invite awareness into the feeling. As you allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling, you may notice it naturally subsiding.
Proceed mindfully by asking yourself what do I need most right now? What is your most important and urgent priority? Narrow down your focus and take it one small step at a time.
So next time you are feeling overwhelmed with worrying thoughts, slow down and STOP, bring space and awareness into your day, and see how positively this impacts your ability to manage your stress!