If you think about the whole of your day, where is your attention during the day? On the wishes, demands and worries of others? On staying on schedule? On social media? On your surroundings (the sounds, the views)? On yourself – on your feelings and the sensations of your body?
The days of so many people are spent focusing only on things outside of themselves. Because our brains have evolved to ensure the human species survives, the mind is built to constantly be on the look out for possible threats in its environment; reasons to fight, escape, and survive. Thus, the more emphatically our attention is on what’s outside of us, the more likely our brains are going to find things that could cause us feelings of fear, stress, and anxiety.
When we are burdened by something outside of us, such as work, and our threat scanner is activated, and the situation begins to feel ever more burdensome. However, everyday life of the average person today is not under threat at all times, despite how your body makes you feel.
When one feels very burdened, one will find that even the smaller things weigh a tonne in one’s mind; the issues feel big – and very real as well. Then, inevitably, our emotions respond to the threat, the perceived burden our minds created. We cannot influence what happens around us and in the world, but we can influence our minds to calm down. Sometimes it is good to cut out the noise of one’s environment and to stop and focus on the body’s sensations, your internal thoughts, and emotional world.
If everyone in the world did this every day, we would have world peace.
The outside world will remain the same with or without your undivided attention, and nothing will collapse in the few minutes that you take to care for yourself. And besides, developing your own sense of peace and inner security is not taking away from others – on the contrary. The ability to calm your body and mind saves you strength and resources to function better when needed. If we exhaust ourselves from constantly being on high alert, we will no longer be able to act when action is needed. Or the action is inefficient, because we are exhausted.
Do the 3 exercises on the next page and you will experience feelings of inner security trickle into your days.
In the mornings:
(Card 29 from Stress Less Cards deck)
Watch how you speak to yourself
Close your eyes. Listen to how your thoughts speak to you. Negative inner talk, where you criticize, berate, and limit yourself, consumes your energies. Listen to your inner voice as if to a radio. Do not get caught on a particular thought, or take it to the next level. Just listen, allowing your thoughts to come and go. Do this for 5-10 minutes.
When you are able to break free from the dominion of thoughts, even for a moment, you experience presence, which eases symptoms of stress.
During the day:
(Card 36 from Stress Less Cards deck)
Breathe 10 times
Close your eyes. Breathe in and out ten times. Imagine the inhale reaching all the way to your pelvis and lifting your abdomen and the exhale starting from your pelvis. Do this slowly ten times.
Stress causes shallow breathing using only the top part of our lungs. Deep breathing, using the diaphragm and abdomen, relaxes our body and mind.
(A card from Sleep Tight deck)
Blowing in the wind
You are resting in bed but your thoughts may be keeping you awake and restless. When you feel swept away with a thought, imagine a gentle spring breeze coming to the rescue. It will take the thought and blow it away. Keep doing this until you fall asleep. It’s easier to fall asleep with fresh air.
“I let go of my thoughts.”