Finding Your Zen

It seems that we are all under some sort of stress on a daily basis, and for many of us, it’s rather difficult to control. Heck, we may not even be noticing that the constant headache that we are feeling or back pain are all coming from stress.

Before starting our journey to finding our zen selves, let’s first understand a little more about stress.

Stress is actually a normal reaction that helps us avoid danger in situations that challenge us or are more demanding of us. When we are under stress, there’s a shift and an increase of stress hormones like cortisol, that make the brain and body more alert. This great mechanism allows us to react fast to dangerous situations. The problem starts when we are in a constant sense of alertness in situations that are not life threatening at all and don’t unwind. This is also known as chronic stress. Some of the consequences that can come from chronic stress are high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, depression, anxiety, and even skin problems! Which is why the term “stress management” has never been more important.

Some of the most common stressors nowadays include money, relationships, family, work, and health. And if you identified with more than one of these, know that you are not alone. But how can we learn to deal with the silent killer named stress? When we don’t learn healthy ways to cope with it, we take a different impulsive route. Some unhealthy ways to cope with stress are binge eating, smoking, alcohol, drugs, and oversleeping. But this only starts a vicious cycle and causes more stress since we are not happy with our behavior.

Here are some great ways to cope with stress in a kind way, because being kind with yourself is the first step to start healing.

Know your triggers

Fully understanding the meaning behind your feelings allows you to grow as a person. To better understand your triggers, try applying the problem-solving method:

  1. Understand and define the problems
  2. Come up with ideas on how to tackle each one
  3. Plan the steps needed to take action
  4. Go for it!

A great tool for the problem-solving method practice is journaling. Get an old notebook or invest in a beautiful notebook that will be only for you and your thoughts. And at times, you may find that things are not in your hands. That’s OK, too! this is when the next tip comes into play.

Shift your mindset

This one is probably one of the hardest at first but most rewarding in the end. Instead of explaining this one like the previous tip, I wanted to share two quotes that really spoke to me:

“If you are willing to look at another person’s behavior toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time cease to react at all.”  – Yogi Bhajan

“Look at situations in your life as pathways instead of problems.” –Adventures for Your Soul (book)

Read inspiring books

Although motivational and self-help books may be a little taboo, they can help guide you through whatever issues you may be going through. Like I said earlier, you are not alone. Someone else has already been through what you are going through and they have written about how they were able to overcome it. Some of my recent reads that brought true inspiration in my life are The Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Adventures for Your Soul by Shannon Kaiser. If you know of any books that have helped and inspired you, make sure to share with us below.

Master the art of being mindful

Mindfulness is another one of those words that are starting to become trendy. But there’s a good reason for that. Being mindful means to bring awareness to the present moment, acknowledging and accepting our feelings, thoughts, and sensations. This goes hand in hand with the problem solving method. Practicing mindfulness can help how we react to situations, how we communicate with others, how we communicate with ourselves, and even how we eat when using the mindful eating technique. Learn more about mindful eating here.

Meditate, meditate, meditate

There are so many other tips that we can add here but I wanted to end this post with one of the most important rituals that you can incorporate in your life. Research on the benefits of meditating has been growing by the day! Meditating a few minutes per day can help to preserve the aging of the brain, help with anxiety and mood, increase the learning and memory areas of the brain, and can even help you to concentrate more. The beauty of it is that anyone can meditate. You don’t have to be a master yogi to do it. I attended the launch of the book Wellth, written by the founder of the incredible website Mind Body Green. One of the last things he said to the group was that if you can breathe, you can meditate. And this is so true! Here’s an exercise you can try right now:

Straighten your back, close your eyes (if you feel comfortable), breathe in through your nose counting to 2, breathe out through your nose counting to 4. Repeat this a few times until you feel your body relaxing and the tension melting away.

Congratulations! You have just completed a meditation session!

If you need a little extra help, there are great meditation apps. Some of my favorites are Calm and Headspace.

I hope you find these tips helpful and don’t forget to share with us some of your favorite ways of finding your zen self.

Have a beautiful and peaceful day!