5 Tips and 4 Reminders to Help Reduce Stress in Challenging Times

by Jenn Bodnar | March 22, 2020 8:13 pm

We cannot control what happens around us, we can only control how we respond.  In an era of information overload, it’s very important to moderate who and what has access to you.  Social distancing[1] has helped with the who.  If only there were some kind of mandated distancing and protection from the varying opinions in the media of what this pandemic is truly about.

My job as a yoga teacher is not merely to teach posture.  At my studio, we often call our classes breathing classes.  When we stop and take time to notice our breath, we can better connect to the sensations and thoughts we are experiencing and respond in a more intentional way.

Like many of us, I have received a lot of advice, opinions, and data while being quarantined at home left to scroll aimlessly through social media feeds, watch the news, check emails and use google more in a week than I have all year.

The constant reminders that we are dealing with the unknown, in unchartered territory and that the situation is changing rapidly don’t help with anxiety and stress.

Acute stress is actually good for us.  This helps us slam the breaks when a car cuts us off.  It’s the feeling we get when we try something new and experience something exciting.

Chronic stress, however, lasts for longer periods of time and we can become so accustomed to it, we don’t realize it’s a problem.

The experts at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health[2] have been busy curating ways to combat this stress and simultaneously alleviate anxiety.

For those dealing with heightened levels of stress, Kripalu’s top five “Stress Busters” can help us to take a step back and examine the bigger picture.

1) Express what’s going on. Expressing what you’re feeling releases tension. Find creative outlets, such as writing or drawing, to move that stressful energy.

2) Be in the present. Worrying about the future causes stress. Notice what’s going on right now, at this very moment, not what your mind is telling you.

3) Make a list. Examine your specific stressors and write them down. Look at them through new perspectives once you’re done listing them.

4) Notice. Pause, breathe, and notice your thoughts and sensations. Allow your feelings to be present.

5) Let go of self-judgement. Feel what you feel with self-compassion and lack of judgment.

These are great practices anytime. Allowing yourself to be anchored in the moment, good, bad or otherwise can reap life long benefits.  Remembering to be grateful and taking just 5 minutes for meditation[3] can be very beneficial for stress as well.

Here are four reminders to remember when you’re feeling stressed and to utilize for your next meditation or journal practice.

1) Everything is Temporary. ~ Universal Truth. The only consistent in life is change.  Think of an ice cube having the ability to become water, and egg hatching, wounds healing.  This too shall pass.

2) Life happens for you, not to you. ~ Tony Robbins. If you ever remember a challenging time in the past, you will likely see there was a reason, a lesson.  Humility and strength do not come when things are easy.

3) Muddy water is best cleared when left alone. ~ Alan Watts.  Sometimes the best thing we can do is nothing.  We can see challenging times as an opportunity to get silent, allow space and time to naturally evolve.  Nature always knows what to do.

4) “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” ~ Cynthia Ocello.  In order for a muscle to become stronger, stress and muscle damage must occur.  Just like chronic stress, too much complacency can be a bad thing as well.  Stress in small doses teaches us to evolve.

Endnotes:
  1. Social distancing: https://yogadigest.com/separated-but-not-divided-a-guide-to-social-distancing/
  2. Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health: https://kripalu.org/
  3. 5 minutes for meditation: https://yogadigest.com/meditation-w-julie-healthy-mind-healthy-body/

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