The sun may be shining, but not everyone feels “sunny” inside. As humans, most of us have felt anxious or stressed at some point in our lives. There’s so many reasons for this. Whether it’s due to work pressures, relationship difficulties, financial issues, illness, loss, separation, the pressures of juggling many responsibilities at once or simply change, stress is unavoidable. What’s important, is how we cope with stress. While we often don’t have control on our external environment, we can control our response to our “stressors”. Anxiety is often a consequence of stress, and it can also be strongly linked to depression. We can also feel anxious from feeling anxious! It’s normal to want to flee difficult emotions, such as worry, anxiety, sadness or loneliness. However, all of these feelings are part and package of the human experience.
When we can learn ways to build on our own inner resilience, we can cope better with the challenging times in life, rather than get knocked by them.
Here’s 3 ways to help keep those negative thoughts in check, which can often lead to stress, anxiety and depression.
Being kind is good for us! On a physical level, our biochemistry changes, creating hormones which protect our heart, enhance our immune system and regulate our digestive system. The stress levels in the body which were raised during negative thinking drop back to normal. This in itself makes way for so many body and mind benefits, including better sleep, greater focus and concentration and more energy, and reduced physical tension.
Start being kind first to yourself. Treat yourself like your own best friend. Start by noticing each time your self-critical voice speaks up. Then give yourself a break! You wouldn't give your best friend such a hard time, would you?
Human connections are necessary for good mental health. Sharing a problem with somebody can be enough to help you gain a different perspective & feel better. While we all need some "me" time, we all do much better - physically as well as mentally - with others. This summer, why not join a new club, take up a new interest or do some voluntary work? Reach out to somebody you haven’t been in touch with for a while. While technology is a great tool, there is no replacement for real human connection.
Meditate and breathe
It can be for as little as 5 minutes. It’s not about shutting out negative thoughts, it’s about being able to sit with them and know that they will move on. Meditation is known to help us in many ways, including improved focus and concentration, greater emotional resilience, improved physical health and improved relationships. To begin your meditation practice, commit to 5 minutes in the morning. Focus on your breath by inhaling for a count of 4, and exhaling for a count of 4. Make it consistent, and you may gradually increase the time of your meditation. Alternatively, try repeating silently to yourself as you breathe in and out, "this too shall pass". It can help remind us on a deep inner level that these challenging emotions will move on.
Self-help acupressure point for anxiety or stress
Finally, a bonus tip! You can try a self-help acupressure point to manage feelings of anxiety of stress. This is known as Shiatsu, and is similar to acupuncture without the needles.
Measure 3 fingers width above the inner wrist crease, in between the 2 tendons of the wrist. Using a direct and fairly firm pressure with the thumb, hold for 3 to 5 slow deep breaths. Repeat a few times if necessary.
I hope that you have found one helpful tool or insight to help you feel better when you need it!