Stress is like a second skin that almost everyone wears these days. Marriage, relationships, careers, home; you name it and we all have our own bucket list of stress. We all face time and again mental and emotional pressure, some more than others. We also have our own ways of coping with it. Some go for comfort food harboring the risk of binging, others opt for more healthy choices such as exercise or finding solace in their spirituality.
So how do we de-stress? Many would question that how can we not feel stress if we are in situations that are beyond our control? But that is exactly my question. When you cannot control the uncontrollable how about accepting it and then finding a way to resolve it or cope with it? I strongly feel that acceptance is the key to changing anything in life. Unless we accept ourselves for who we in the world and cut ourselves some slack that we all are doing the best we can, we can neither change our circumstances nor ourselves.
A famous saying by Buddhists is that “don’t shoot the second arrow.” It means that while pain is inevitable and is the first arrow, it’s the suffering, which is like a second arrow that we shoot towards our own selves as we continue to escape reality.
Mindfulness plays a pivotal role in managing stress. Many confuse mindfulness with meditation whereas it is much more than that. It is an attitude that we inculcate within ourselves that makes us experience our world in its present moment rather than dwelling on the regrets of the past or the what-ifs of the future.
Mindfulness is having a willing attitude towards life. It is learning how to be fully aware of our present moment in life in a non-judgmental manner.
I recently started practicing mindfulness where I had to make a conscious effort to focus on what was happening right now in my life and enjoying it. Like eating my favorite food mindfully, enjoying the taste and flavor. So many times we eat without any attention to what we are eating as zillion thoughts run in our mind. Its time we change that.
Its not easy to stop the mind from wandering off but the minute we realize that it has wandered off, is the moment of awareness. Catch that moment and try again to enjoy present experiences in life.
It definitely lowers stress and makes everything we do in a better way. It’s like turning down the brain’s volume knob. Sleep for example becomes more restful. It is not a quick fix solution or a way of criticism for over thinking but simply helping you to have a calmer stance in life. Many of us feel that mindfulness is not for everyone. My friend Nazia asked, “Will this work for me?” Yes it does. Many of us have very restless personalities and we can’t wait to move on to the next thing. Then there are far more choices available like watching a movie or checking Facebook that we feel are a source of relaxation for us. In reality its as simple as stopping for a minute in our daily life and asking the question, “What is my experience right now? What am I thinking and feeling?” Then simply doing some deep breathing and having an attitude of openness and gratitude for being alive and an optimist attitude for the future.
Stress is inevitable but we need to be compassionate towards ourselves. Major reason why we are so stressed out is that we are judging ourselves all the time for not doing enough. Lets try to make the most of the hand that was dealt to us and embrace life with all its richness that will be a basket of positive and negative experiences. We unfortunately cannot pick and choose so might as well mindfully make the most of what comes our way!
Story first published: 11th February 2017