You can’t necessarily change all the stressors in your life, things like a chaotic job or the demands of raising your kids, but you can reduce their harmful effects on your psyche, and you don’t need a spa treatment or lavish vacation to do it. The real problem is that most of us don’t know how to unplug during the day; our stress reduction techniques keep our brains buzzing and only add to our problems.
You’ll find yourself better able to persevere in the face of the various stressors if you conscientiously take some time every day where you don’t allow yourself to be distracted by anything. Find a quiet place and simply concentrate on your breathing for a while, even as little as five minutes.
Lots of people think the best way to combat stress is to save up for a vacation, but what ends up happening is that they are so used to being in go mode all the time that they make their vacations just as hectic, filled with endless activities like the rest of their lives and they don’t come back refreshed at all. They feel like they could use a vacation to recover from their vacation.
You don’t need all the free time in the world to lower your stress, you just need to make unplugging part of the fabric of your daily life. There are so many opportunities, even in a day filled to the brim with demands, where you can mindfully come to your breathing, just appreciating life in the moment instead of worrying about the past or future for those few moments, however brief they are. Some good examples are walking meditation, which you can employ any time you walk anywhere, or letting the phone ring a few extra seconds, concentrating on your breathing during those moments.
Lots of people say they just don’t have time for these simple lifestyle changes, or that they don’t think they will be effective unless they are of longer duration, but really they’re just rationalizing their own inability to relax, a habit they have been reinforcing for years, where if they don’t feel busy then they feel like unproductive members of society and like they’re somehow bad people. If you want to become more immune from the harmful effects of all your daily stressors, you’ve got to give yourself permission to relax during the day, to sit there and do absolutely nothing except focus on your mindful breathing, and you’ll find yourself more content and peaceful in the face of all of the various challenges that come your way.