Stress is a part of our everyday lives; it’s impossible to imagine a life without it. Even while we’re doing the things that we enjoy, we’re also feeling stress. For example, if you’re a great writer with many novels to your credit, people might think that you have nothing left to worry about. After all, you’ve accomplished what you wanted to do in life. Still, you feel some pressure about continuing to produce good work.
You don’t want to be the type of writer who was a “one hit wonder.” And if you’re the type who writes popular fiction, you might feel some pressure to produce more serious writing. Even if people love your work, you might get stressed out when a critic slams it.
Similarly, it’s possible that you’re in a great relationship with your significant other. This doesn’t mean that you don’t feel relationship stress. If you haven’t yet gotten married, you might feel stressed about the idea of getting married. If you’re already married, you might feel stressed about the idea of having children. And once you have children, you have to balance your family life with your career and make sure that your kids have everything they need.
So even if your life is, to all appearances, great, you’re still going to have some source of stress or the other. As a result, you have to learn techniques to deal with it. Some people blow off steam by working out. Others take up a hobby or an art form that helps them to express how they feel. You can also use meditation techniques for stress such as the following:
Take In the View
This is a great exercise that you can use no matter where you are. Of course, if you have a great view from your office, that helps a lot. But you can also use this technique by sitting in front of a painting that you like or just taking in the room around you.
To follow this technique, take a few deep breaths and then step away from your work by pushing your chair back or turning around. It’s best to continue sitting because you’ll be tempted to fidget if you’re standing up. Then let your eyes wander around the view or the painting until they naturally settle at one point. This is the point that “catches your eye.” Then let your eyes take in that point completely and move naturally to something else in the view.
Keep moving from point to point until you feel your body relax completely. Repeat whenever you need a moment.
Do Something with Your Hands
Often, stress and anxiety manifest themselves in your hands and feet. You tend to start fidgeting with things when you feel stressed out. The solution is not to just tell yourself that you need to be still but to actually give yourself something to do with your hands. It’s even better if that thing happens to be a work of art but it doesn’t have to be. You can occupy your hands by cleaning, cooking, sewing up old clothes that have gotten torn or replacing buttons that have fallen off.
You can also try pottery or ceramics.
To make the practice more meditative, try singing when you work or listening to a piece of music. Our fingertips are the most sensitive parts of our body. So it’s easy to develop focus and concentration when we’re using them to guide us.
Write Stream of Consciousness
This is a technique recommended by Julia Cameron, writer of The Artist’s Way and many other books on creativity. Cameron suggests that every morning, you should get up and start writing what’s on your mind right away. Keep a letter-sized notebook and a pen next to your bed and write three pages of what’s on your mind first thing in the morning.
It’s always a good idea to meditate like this when you’re not completely awake because your unconscious mind is giving you ideas throughout the night—ideas that you tend to forget during your waking hours. But if you write them down, there’s less of a chance that this will happen. Even if you don’t get any great ideas, you can use this time and space to complain about anything that’s on your mind, which can be a great stress buster.
If you can’t manage to do this right away when you wake up, then try doing it after a cup of coffee or later in the day. It may not be as effective but can still be quite cathartic.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]
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