The interesting thing about stress is that it means different things to different people. We may share common physical reactions to stress — muscle tension and rapid breathing, for example — but what one person finds to be exciting may leave another person frightened. You might say that, in some ways, stress can be a state of mind. The following exercises are designed to help change a stressful frame of mind into a calm, peaceful one.
Meditation to Erase The Slate
You don’t have to be a lover of bean sprouts and Eastern philosophy to enjoy the benefits of meditation. Meditation is just a technique to help you clear stressful thoughts from your mind and give yourself a break.
Meditation is most successful when done in a comfortable, private place without distractions — in a warm tub, for instance, or even in your parked car after the drive home from work.
Start by closing your eyes and focusing on one peaceful word or image. When other thoughts enter your mind, let them go and return to the one word or image you’ve selected. In essence, you’re erasing your mind’s slate of “shoulds, coulds, do’s and don’ts” and allowing yourself the luxury of a peaceful break.
Daydream Away — It’s Okay!
Forget what your conscience says — it’s okay to daydream. In fact, it can be very good for you. Daydreaming — or “visualization”— achieves the same feeling of tranquility as meditation through a slightly different technique. Instead of focusing on one single peaceful thought, you think about an entire relaxing environment in full detail.
For example, if winter snows and rain have got you down, the bills are stacked high, and the kids need braces, close your eyes and imagine yourself in your favorite vacation spot. Perhaps you’re at the lake. Think about the boat swaying on the water, a fish tugging at your line. There’s a scent of pine in the air and a warm breeze is rustling the reeds and brushes. The sun is getting warmer -feel like taking a dip before lunch?
You get the idea. Your daydreams can take you away from a stress-packed day to a tranquil mental getaway. (And just think, this vacation is free!)
A Stress-Less Frame of Mind
Stress affects not only our physical health but our mental well-being, too. To successfully manage stress in our everyday lives, we can learn to relax and enjoy life. Meditation and visualization can help us take a break from outside pressures and improve our outlook on life. And, when we’re in a stress-less frame of mind, we’re better able to handle the trials, tribulations, joys, and challenges of being human.
Meditation helps you focus on one peaceful thought or image.
Visualization is like daydreaming — take an imaginary vacation.