WHO’S THE VOICE IN YOUR HEAD?
HOW MINDFULNESS HELPS US OVERCOME STRESS
T here was a period of time when I got up at 4:30 a.m. every morning to do yoga. I’d heard that yoga was good for stress relief, and between running the law firm and raising a family, I certainly have my fair share of stress. Doing yoga definitely helped with my stress, but the sleep situation — or lack thereof — that came from waking up so early just wasn’t doable. Eventually, I moved my yoga to the evenings. This has helped so much with my stress levels and my sleep. April is Stress Awareness Month, and I’d like to share some of my personal stress management strategies. I don’t know anyone who’s not a little stressed out during the day. To be fair, some stress is good and can help us get things done. However, chronic stress can really harm your health. My brain is constantly going with thoughts, and my phone is constantly pinging with new notifications that demand my attention. It’s incredibly stressful. You can’t do good work, or good anything, when your attention is being pulled every which way. Mindfulness is a very important part of my stress management strategy, and yoga and meditation are the two biggest resources in my mindfulness toolkit. I was listening to an interview with former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov — who held the title for 15 years — on “The Tim Ferriss Show” podcast. Kasparov explained that the thing that was most important to improving his skills — and to improving himself as a human — was meditation. After hearing this, I downloaded the
app Headspace, which offers guided meditation. It made such a difference. It’s hard to explain, but when I meditate, I feel like my brain is being rewired. I feel calmer and a bit more in control of my own mind. Through my mindfulness journey, I’ve learned that the voice in my head isn’t me. You know the voice I mean. It’s that negative one that says, “I’m a terrible person. I’m not good enough to do this. My life is falling apart.” These thoughts can really drag us down, but that negativity isn’t really you. When I first realized this, it was a huge breakthrough. You can separate yourself from that voice instead of letting it drown you with negative thoughts. By separating yourself from the negative voice, you can acknowledge how you’re feeling, but rather than wrestle with those bad thoughts, you allow them to pass through you. This allows you to process your stress far more effectively. People often say, “I’m so stressed!” like that stress is part of them. But your stress is actually a separate entity. By acknowledging your stress as such, you can let the stress go and better focus on tackling whatever challenges were causing the stress. When I learned to separate myself from that voice, I grew so much in my stress management and my self-improvement. There are always going to be things in life that stress us out, but we don’t have to let that stress control our lives. It’s important to find
strategies to help manage stress that fit into your schedule. For example, if you can’t do yoga in the mornings, plan a yoga session before bed instead. Meditation apps like Headspace or Calm offer 10-minute meditation sessions that can fit into any schedule. You could also read, go for a walk, work out, or do anything else that helps you separate yourself from that voice inside your head. Learning to process stress well is the first step to being a little less stressed out. A trip to White Sands in New Mexico. Throwing the kids into the car and heading out into nature is always important for our family and practicing mindfulness.
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