Some people can make it look so easy. But how does one become so calm, cool, and collected? Through healthy habits, we all can cultivate peace.
First, the Hard Truth.
Many of us have more to do in one day then we have the time for. We are often needed at the next event before the first one finishes. The time in between is spent rushing and chaotic, with no time to relax or recuperate.
Some of us resort to drugs or alcohol to “relax.” For an hour or a few we are relaxed, but the long term affects of these substances actually make the body more stressed and run down.
By the time we get to bed, we are exhausted.
Yet still, many can’t fall asleep and/or get a terrible nights rest.
Then, before we know it, we are waking up, and back at it again.
Another day with too much to do and not enough time. The cycle repeats. And repeats.
We become more and more short tempered, exhausted, and restless as the days pass by. Until finally, it’s the weekend: a day off. ‘Time to do nothing,’ we hope.
But that’s never the case. For many, the weekends are just as busy as the week days.
So with no time to rest, the body and mind get worn down.
This causes illness, inflammation, and disease.
And what is the root cause?
Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.”
Some symptoms of stress from WEB MD [full article here]
“Stress can affect all aspects of your life, including your emotions, behavior, thinking ability and physical health. No part of the body is immune, but because people handle stress differently, symptoms of stress can vary. Symptoms can be vague and may be the same as those caused by medical conditions. It is important to discuss them with your doctor. You may experience any of the following symptoms of stress.
Emotional symptoms of stress include:
- Becoming easily agitated, frustrated and moody
- Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
- Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
- Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
- Avoiding others
Physical symptoms of stress include:
- Low energy
- Upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation, and nausea
- Aches, pains, and tense muscles
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Frequent colds and infections
- Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
- Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear
- Cold or sweaty hands and feet
- Excess sweating
- Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
- Clenched jaw and grinding teeth“
Chronic stress is linked to 6 leading causes of death; heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.
Read more: Life, Stress and Illness
I am sure this information is probably stressing you out, and for that, I’m sorry.
But there is good news! You lower your stress levels with a couple of little changes in perception and daily activities. Here’s a quick look at some tips.
Mindfulness is a practice in-which we aim to maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and environment. It’s maintained by staying in the present moment.It is said that the past is an illusion that can often cause depression.
And, the future is an imagination that can often cause anxiety.
Between the two is the present moment, this moment.
This is where we can find peace of mind.There are simple exercises, or practices, we can do to help us cultivate more peace, relieve stress, and start living more mindful lives.
A practice you can start tonight:
Simply be present. (but how?)
Let’s say you’re washing dishes, think of only the dishes, the soap, the water.
Feel the plate in your grasp. Hear the water rushing. Smell the soap. Whenever your thoughts trail away, bring them back to the sink, to your hands, to the water.
Keep checking in with your senses.
Practice this also in the check out line at the grocery store.
Instead of being impatient, or distracting yourself with your phone or magazine,
just simply be in line; waiting. Notice your feet planted on the ground.
Notice your surroundings. Check in with yourself; see how your doing.
Simply taking the time to check in and stay present can dramatically lower your stress levels. At first, it may seem strange and hard; but the more your practice,
the easier it will get.
Breathing is something most of us in the modern world don’t think too much about until our breathing is impaired. But did you know of emotional state can somewhat impair our breathing?
Think about a time you were scared and you gasped for air.
Or a panic attack when your breathing quickens and shallows.
Our emotions affect our breathing.
Stress affects are breathing.
But, our breathing can also affect our emotions.
With slow, deep breaths we can subconsciously tell the mind that we are safe and o.k.;
When we are anxious or stressed, our nervous system is thrown into the ‘fight or flight’ response.
the fight or flight reaction [as defined by Dictionary.com]:
1.the response of the sympathetic nervous system to a stressful event, preparing the body to fight or flee, associated with the adrenal secretion of epinephrine and characterized by increased heart rate, increased blood flow to the brain and muscles, raised sugar levels, sweaty palms and soles, dilated pupils, and erect hairs.
Breathing slowly and deeply helps pull our nervous system from the ‘fight/flight’ anxious response, back into the calm state of ‘rest/digest’ .
the rest and digest reaction [as defined by sciencedaily.com]:
The parasympathetic nervous system is one of three divisions of the autonomic nervous system. Sometimes called the rest and digest system, theparasympathetic system conserves energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract.
So feeling stressed out? Anxious or Nervous? Depressed?
Just Remember to breathe.
Take full deep breaths that make your chest cavity (and belly!) expand.
Repetitive deep breaths will calm your nervous system down thus calming your mind down.
Life these days is more chaotic and busy then ever before.
That means, the individual needs more tools to stay calm under stress then individuals in earlier times.
With mindfulness and Yoga, you can give yourself the tools to be your own source of peace.
The important thing is, to practice everyday.
Every moment we are given another opportunity to practice mindfulness.
It’s through the repetitive action that we begin to transform.
Good luck out there. And remember to breathe, and stay present.