No matter who you are or where you’ve been for the past couple of years, it is highly likely that you have experienced some significant stress. While the past year or so has been incredibly stressful and pressure-filled for many people worldwide, typical daily life also brings its own share of stressors to bear. Whether you are attempting to recover from the stress of the past 18 months or working to successfully navigate your everyday life, mindfulness can help you to stay a step ahead of your stress. Try out these helpful hints to feel less overwhelmed and taken aback by stressful situations and thoughts:
Use Mindfulness to Find Out What Stresses You Out
Since mindfulness involves noticing thoughts, feelings and sensations without judgment, mindfulness is an ideal way to pinpoint the stressors that have the biggest effect on you personally. Take some time to just notice your thoughts the next time you are stressed. And, if you are able, think back to what happened prior to your stress reaction. Take in all of the circumstances. These could include the time of day, the weather, the people you were interacting with and the tasks that you were being asked to perform. Many people fail to notice that running on inadequate sleep can leave them more open to stress. Even circumstances that seem like small annoyances (like hot weather) can contribute to your stress.
Look Ahead to Stressful Seasons and Events
Once you’ve established a more specific list of the environmental factors, people and tasks that stress you out, you can prepare yourself for the times when you know you’ll be dealing with these things. If you know that you’ll have to have a meeting with a difficult coworker, you can at least make sure that you enter the meeting well-rested and have had a relaxing morning prior to your meeting. Being able to anticipate activities and periods of time that will be stressful for you also allows you to know when you need to schedule some rest for yourself. If you know that you’re going to have a weekly work schedule that is incredibly draining for you, plan to schedule a massage or some down time for yourself afterward.
Notice (and Take Charge of) Your Thought Patterns
As you continue your mindfulness practice, you’ll be able to notice your own thought cycles with better acuity. Some thoughts and types of self-talk are helpful to you, but others can perpetuate a negative mindset or further your stress. If you find yourself looking ahead at your weekly schedule and thinking “ I can’t do this. My schedule this week is too hard. I’ll never get it all done successfully,” that’s a concerning sign. Whenever you find yourself automatically returning to overly negative or discouraging thought patterns, consider what you might be able to do to replace these. Try finding a few mantras that are positive and that you can repeat to yourself consistently.