Life is challenging. We all know that. What we don’t often know is how to manage our reactions to everyday stressors. And, in general, it is those reactions that tend to make things feel bigger and harder, or smaller and more manageable. Here are a few suggestions that might be helpful in soothing your anxiety, and putting your next challenge into a less stressful perspective.
* Consider the bigger picture.
Often in ‘the grand scheme of things’, the thing we’re upset about is really quite insignificant. It is our habit to React. When we can remember the bigger picture, and question whether this is worth getting upset over, we are more able to peacefully meet ‘life on life’s terms’.
* Question your inner self-talk.
All of us have inner voices. Under stress, those voices can be judgmental and self-critical. But just because they’re loud and repetitive doesn’t mean they’re true. It helps to get a little distance from the noise, as if you were hearing a radio playing in another room. Then ask yourself if what it’s saying is really true, or a habit of thinking that only serves to create more suffering.
* Speak kindly to yourself.
Most of us tend to be quite harsh in our inner self-talk. Instead, try talking to yourself in a loving tone, as you might to a child, a pet or a cherished friend. You’re in relationship with yourself every moment for the rest of your life. You might as well makes friends with and treat yourself with kindness.
* Cultivate your inner Witness.
Usually when we’re feeling something distressing, we’re quick to name it and then react. Instead of saying, for example, “I’m scared,” try reporting the sensations you’re experiencing: ‘My breathing is shallow and quick. I feel butterflies in my stomach. My mouth is dry and my palms are moist. My eyes feel sore.’ Or better yet, “The breath is shallow and quick. There are butterflies in the stomach,” etc. When we report, we are noticing, instead of identifying ourselves as the feeling. We become less attached to what we’re experiencing and more able to calm ourselves and observe with interest and inquiry. Like, “Huh, what is this I’m experiencing? This is interesting . . . “
* Say “thank you”.
Most of us are very good at seeing the glass as half-empty. Begin noticing what you do have that’s worthy of your appreciation. Expressing gratitude is calming, and puts our perceived stressors in a different perspective.
Smiling literally stimulates different chemical reactions in the brain. These reactions physiologically contribute to our sense of well-being. Even if it doesn’t feel authentic in the moment, smile. It is quite likely to change your mood, and help you feel happier and more at peace.
* Practice makes perfect.
We are all beginners here. Especially when it comes to mastering the mind and changing our habits of self-care. Be compassionate and gentle in breaking your patterns. It is worth the effort to try and try again; to remember you are worth taking kind and loving care of.