How exactly does mindfulness help with managing stress?
In the first part of this series on practicing mindfulness, we talked about what mindfulness is and how self awareness can help you keep in touch with your own thoughts and emotions at all times.
The idea of practicing self awareness is focusing on a more relaxed attitude towards the world, as you have your inner refuge where you can find your calm and relaxation.
These were the general guidelines described in the previous post. Now, we will take things a bit further and offer you some techniques to master mindfulness.
What are the best methods to mastering and practicing mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be a very powerful weapon in your fight against stress. Mastering it requires a lot of practice, but the benefits are really great.
Here are some additional tools for mastering mindfulness that will help you deal with stressors better and feel more relaxed and happier.
Method #1 – Stop judging everything and everyone
We live in a society where we are more connected, as humankind, then ever before.
At the same time, we are demanded, on a regular basis, to voice our opinions on various things and people. What happens is that we are only passing judgments all the time.
The effect on your state of mind is more consistent than you may think.
Spending time passing judgments drains your creative and productive energy and there is nothing out of the ordinary to feel exhausted at the end of the day, without actually doing anything.
To save your inner energies from being consumed like that, you need to develop something called a mindset of acceptance.
How does one develop a mindset of acceptance?
It is not a difficult thing to do. Here is the basis of this mindset: stop considering things, events and people around you in negative and positive terms.
Take everything as it happens and mold your own behavior and reactions after it.
You will soon find yourself feeling more energetic and more productive, as your mind becomes clearer of all the challenges that usually come with passing judgments all the time.
While judging everything and everyone is time and energy consuming, resulting in a lot of stress, this mindset of acceptance is the exact opposite.
You will be able to focus on whatever task at hand you may have, without any other mental interference.
Method #2 – Think before reacting
Due to all the factors described in the earlier post, we are wired to react in a certain way to stressors.
However, the way we react is not useful and it can even contribute to increasing stress.
In the example offered, you were feeling irritated by being called on the phone by a telemarketer.
What happens is that it is no longer the telemarketer that causes stress, but your own reaction.
While it may feel like the right thing to do, reacting in a negative manner only affects you.
Breaking these patterns of behaviors can be achieved, using something called conscious thinking.
What is conscious thinking and how can you practice it?
The way we think, as human beings, is split in two: one called conscious thinking, and one called subconscious thinking.
When someone reacts like in the example described above, they allow the subconscious mind to take over.
You do not actually think or plan to be annoyed; it just happens.
However, this does not mean that you cannot do anything about it.
You have to develop of habit of refraining from reacting when exposed to a stressor like the phone call from the telemarketer.
If you take this time to think, you are practically reverting control from the subconscious mind to the conscious mind.
Now, use your conscious mind to avoid feeling annoyed because of the phone call.
Just refuse the conversation politely and go back to what you were doing, without any negative thoughts or feelings.
This is how conscious thinking works, and it definitely helps you get rid of bad habits and negative patterns of behavior.
Method #3 – Learn the importance of compassion
This works hand in hand with the recommendation to stop judging everyone and everything. Being compassionate means having more sympathy for the less fortunate around you.
It is a proven fact that compassionate people lead calmer, more fulfilling lives, which means that they experience less stress as a general rule.
There is a great benefit to being compassionate. By thinking this way about others, you become less pessimistic and your reaction to stressors is diminished.
In due time, you will start visualizing life as a string of ups and downs that must be taken as it is. As a result, you will feel happier and more fulfilled.