You know that feeling when someone at work or home drops you a stressful bombshell? Here’s help for it from Shamash Alidina, author of new book, The Mindful Way through Stress
Have you been shouted at on the phone? Or walked into the office and found a colleague saying a really nasty comment about you? Hopefully not. But everyone’s experienced the feeling of suddenly being shocked by someone or something. And when you’re on the receiving end of a short sharp stressor, it’s hard to know what to do.
everyone’s experienced the feeling of suddenly being shocked by someone or something
Having been a schoolteacher for ten years, I’ve had my fair share of excessive stress. It’s enough to drive anyone to become a meditation teacher! Here are my seven steps for mindfully coping with life’s unpleasant and stressful moments.
Pause It’s best to stop before you react. Discovered your phone’s been stolen? The temptation will be to react straight away to the situation by just talking to anyone and venting. Give yourself time to reflect rather than automatically reacting out of fear, anger or frustration. You’ll make a much better decision of what to do.
Respond with a calm voice If someone’s being nasty or insulting you, after pausing, repeat what they said in a calm voice. For example, ‘So hang on a minute. You’re saying I’ve never produced any good work at all in 10 years. Is that right?’ By doing that, they’ll probably realise they’ve over-reacted and your tone of voice may make them re-consider.
Feel your feet If you’re hearing some bad news and feel a bit panicky, feel your feet on the floor. It takes your attention out of the spinning thoughts in your head and makes you feel more grounded. Combine with a few slow deep breaths.
It takes your attention out of the spinning thoughts in your head and makes you feel more grounded.
Think ‘perhaps’ You may have been told there are redundancies around the corner and you may be sacked. Think perhaps! No-body knows the future for certain. And even if you do get fired, you may get a better job with better pay.
Zoom out Take a bird’s eye view of the stressful situation. Let’s say you just discovered your child has got a really bad set of reports. If you think on a longer scale, he or she may have had many other good reports, so it may be a one off. And it’s just a set of reports too – not their final exams.
Treat yourself like you’d treat a friend going through a stressful moment.
Forgive Holding grudges hurts you more than anyone else. If your boss has labelled your work as incompetent, it’s easy to hold a grudge against him/her. Don’t bother. Realise that by not forgiving them, you’re the one that feels the pain, not them. Let it go.
Be kind to yourself No one likes to feel a sudden burst of stress. Be nice to yourself as soon as you can. Say things like ‘Hey, that was tough. I’m going take things easy tonight. Have a nice bath and cancel some of my appointments this week to give myself space to breathe and chill.’ Treat yourself like you’d treat a friend going through a stressful moment. Be your own best friend – you deserve it!
The Mindful Way through Stress: The Proven 8-Week Path to Health, Happiness, and Well-Being by Shamash Alidina (published by Guilford Press) £10.79.
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