07 Nov 8 Mind Training Tips for Stress Reduction
Today is National Stress Awareness Day, which is run by the International Stress Management Association (ISMA). Their web page on National Stress Awareness Day is available here for more information
Stress is a response to demands on the body and life, a response to crisis and fears. If stress gets overwhelming it can cause other mental health problems, emotional exhaustion and physical illness and can impact on work, relationships, families, and every aspect of life. When someone is suffering from negative or overwhelming stress, they may not act or react normally in some situations, for example driving or in an argument, with disastrous consequences.
The theme of National Stress Awareness Day 2018 is ‘Does Hi-Tech cause Hi-Stress?’ And it will look at the negatives and positives of the lifestyle that aspects of computers, internet and automation have brought. The aim of the day is to raise awareness, publicity and profile of stress and its impact, and reduce stigma while promoting the importance of well-being and stress reduction for individuals and organizations.
In a previous blog, I have discussed a Digital Detox strategy which I personally adhere too. I can happily report that many people have adopted this approach into their lives successfully. Below, I have shared some further tips on stress reduction.
TIPS FOR STRESS REDUCTION
With the effects of stress having far-reaching effects on both body and mind, meditation is a much-needed ally in stopping them in their tracks.
Meditation is an art that calms the soul and relaxes the mind, promoting an internal mental spaciousness in which troubles and fears no longer look so menacing. Creative answers can naturally develop besides a confident detachment that provides better objectivity and perspective.
My Top Mind Training Tips
1. Find a good meditation teacher
Do try to get along to a meditation class taught by an experienced practitioner; it can really help to learn in the company of others and also to ask questions and get direct answers from someone who knows the territory.
2. Best not to meditate on too full a stomach
Before breakfast is good. If you’ve just eaten, your body is using its energy to digest your food: you are more likely to get sleepy in meditation after a heavy meal.
3. Be sensible about posture
Westerners, unless they’ve done a lot of yoga or are naturally not particularly flexible, generally can’t get into a lotus position at all let alone sit comfortably that way for 20 minutes. You don’t need to sit in full lotus to meditate! Kneeling on cushions or sitting on a chair is fine. Be as comfortable and upright as you can.
4. Make some clear time
Choose a time to meditate when you really do have a bit of undisturbed time and can relax, even if it’s just for five minutes! Turn off your mobile phone and close the door. Do what you can to make it possible to allow yourself to let go of being available to outside demands for a while and take an undisturbed space for yourself.
5. Warm up a little before, chill out a little after
Prepare to sit with some stretches for the hips and easing out of stiff shoulders, give a bit of kindly attention to any tense places. Finish meditating in time for a cup of tea or even just a minute’s gazing out of the window doing nothing, before you go on with your day’s activities.
6. Find a quiet place free from distraction
If you decide you’d like to meditate regularly at home, it can really help to sit in the same place in your home each time and to create a bit of a special atmosphere there, perhaps with a candle, some flowers and a picture that really inspires you.
7. Let go of expectations
Have faith in yourself and a sense of humour. There are all kinds of meditation experiences, just as there is a huge spectrum of human experience, from serene to grumpy, ecstatic to bored, blissfully clear to distracted. Don’t judge yourself as having ‘good’ or ‘bad’ meditations. Being aware of whatever is going on is what counts.
8. Celebrate your progress!
Meditation is conducive and supportive of positive change in your life, but be gentle with yourself – you may just not get enlightened overnight. Some old habits die hard, but bringing awareness to them and cultivating an increasingly positive emotional attitude towards yourself, you can achieve great things for yourself.
Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…
Meditation Practice for Stress Reduction
You can designate just 2 minutes in the first week, graduate to 3, then 5 etc.
Find a comfortable place to sit, on a chair or on the floor: allow the natural breath to settle. Bring your attention to the navel. Observe the gentle expansion of the breath on the inhalation; observe the contraction of the breath back towards the spine on the exhalation.
Continue to observe the breath without forcing it at all. When the mind wonders, as it inevitably will, bring the mind back to the breath.
Meditation occurs when the space in between your thoughts increases.
For more tips on how to live a healthier lifestyle, check out my new book, which is available on Amazon, and all leading bookstores, including Waterstones and Borders.
‘Mind Body Cleanse’ by Chris James (Penguin Vermilion, £14.99). Available from here: https://www.chrisjamesmindbody.com/product/mind-body-cleanse-by-chris-james/https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mind-Body-Cleanse-Plan-Re-Energise/dp/1785040804
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