Stress is an inevitable part of our lives and often leads us to be overwhelmed by emotions. When emotions take over, we become reactive and lose touch with reality. This is the negative side of stress. Although none of us would wish for stressful situations to happen to us, looking back, we notice that they always brought something positive with them. We often hear when people say: “thank God this happened to me because I was on autopilot and this situation encouraged me to change for the better.” Uncertain situations push us out of our comfort zone, reveal our capacity for inner strength and provide us with many valuable insights. Provided that we are willing to take responsibility for everything that happens in our lives and focus on opportunities, learning and growth. However, it is in our power, what can we do to cope with the negative side of stress more easily, recover faster and avoid its harmful consequences?
We can introduce one of these four scientifically proven techniques into our daily routine:
Through regular meditation, we learn to better control our thoughts and emotions and get rid of negative thoughts and learned patterns of behavior. Research shows that meditation enhances our brain’s neuroplasticity – the ability to create new neural connections, which prepares us to adapt in the event of sudden situations. During meditation, we train the mind so that the rational part of the brain takes control of the part of the brain responsible for the excessive experience of emotions (amygdala). When our body experiences severe stress, we breathe rapidly and shallowly, our heart beats fast, our blood pressure rises and we feel tension in our body. We are ready for flight or fight. It is a justified reaction of the mind if we are in danger, but it is not good when we feel this way every day or for a long period of time, at work or in interactions with people around us. Meditation slows down the heartbeat, lowers blood pressure, restores self-awareness, encourages deep breathing from the diaphragm and sends a message to the brain: “calm down, change your perspective, you are not in danger.”
2. Physical activity
Regardless of age, physical exercise has been proven to help build resilience. Although resilience is actually an emotional muscle, research has shown that by straining and strengthening physical muscles, we increase the ability to cope and adapt to challenges. Despite the fact that certain practices have a strong impact on our mind and body (yoga, tai chi, qigong…) research claims that discipline and consistency are more important than the type of exercises we practice.
3. A gratitude journal
Take at least 5 minutes a day to express gratitude. While writing a diary, we do not allow our mind to worry about the past or worry about the future. We are present “here and now”. It is the only place and moment in which we can take concrete action and do something. By expressing gratitude, we increase the secretion of dopamine and serotonin, “feel good” hormones that immediately improve our mood, making us feel happy inside. In the diary, you can write gratitude for basic things, such as food, water, and a roof over your head, a delicious lunch with friends, a walk with a loved one… you don’t need to wait for some big life event to happen. This technique seems very simple, but let’s remember; are not the most important resources for survival, such as breathing, water, air and earth, simple and available.
4. Managing emotions
The strongest form of stress is emotional stress. It was caused by a certain situation that caused a strong negative emotion in us (anger, fear, sadness, shame, guilt). This emotion does not necessarily have to be from a week or a month ago, but can have its roots from childhood. The next time you find yourself in a rush of some negative emotion, ask yourself these 3 questions:
What is it that I feel?
How do these feelings affect my thoughts, behavior?
What was the trigger?
You look for answers within yourself, because that way you will gain greater awareness and understanding of your own emotions and behavior. You will gain insights into what or who you react to impulsively, violently, emotionally, to which you are sensitive and tender. If we learn the rule to process (pause and redirect) our impulsive feelings, emotional stress will not accumulate in the body. It is important not to suppress unwanted emotions, but to regulate them in a timely manner and express them in a healthy way.
Managing emotions is one of the elements of emotional intelligence and is essential for establishing successful communication and building better interpersonal relationships.
We practice physical activity (kundalini yoga), meditation and emotion management live at:
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By regularly exercising our “emotional muscle”, it becomes stronger and more resistant to stress, we feel greater emotional balance, satisfaction and adopt a more positive outlook on life.