If life was a fairytale then we would all manage to get through everyday without stress and anxiety. The reality is that life has challenges. Being able to regulate your body and mind will help you decrease stress and anxiety. Practicing mindfulness can help you calm down and increase focus and productivity.
Stress is not always bad. Experiencing short bursts of stress can help you achieve goals. However, too much anxiety and prolonged exposure to stress is harmful for the body. Mayo Clinic says “Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.”
How to know if you are experiencing too much stress?
WellMed says signs of too much stress include decreased sex drive; difficulty concentrating, disorganized thoughts, eating too much or too little, fatigue, feelings of helplessness, frequent illnesses and infections, feeling out of control, and feelings of hopelessness.
Mindfulness is a technique that allows you to stay focused, and in control of your emotions. “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”, says Positive Psychology.
It is a state of being in the present and not allowing yourself to panic about the future or worry about the past; two things which often cause anxiety and stress.
How to practice mindfulness
There are different ways to maintain a sense of mindfulness through out the day. The first is deep breathing. Taking as little as five minutes out of your day to stay still and breathe deeply will help slow down your brain. By breaking the pattern of overthinking, you can reach a state of calm and focus.
Journaling is a helpful way to get a sense of everything that is running through your mind. By writing down your thoughts you can get an idea of what is troubling you and work on it accordingly. Journaling does not have to be long and complex; a few notes when you find yourself thinking too far ahead can help bring you back to the present.
Come back to your body
Have you ever noticed that when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, your body becomes tense and stiff? By taking a second to notice what is happening in your body, you can release some of the tension in your shoulders, stomach and jaw. Take a few minutes to notice what is happening in different parts of your body. Wherever you find tension, release it by taking a deep breath and relaxing the area.
It might not seem like much. However it has a lot of benefits. Research done on parents whose children have type 1 diabetes and live a highly stressed life found that relaxation techniques go far in reducing stress levels in the parents.
“Relaxation techniques seem to have a positive impact on stress and on various lifestyle factors in parents of children and adolescents with DT1. Future research on long-term benefits of an intervention program comprising of various relaxation schemes is warranted,” the researchers found.