Julie Potiker, certified Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) instructor and author of “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos, has some simple tips for managing stress.
“With life’s usual stresses compounded by the ongoing pandemic, many of us feel just plain overwhelmed at any given moment,” says Julie. “We can relieve some of that pressure and return to a more calm and peaceful state using mindfulness. It’s easier than you think to start practicing, and the more you practice, the easier it gets to defuse emotional states that might otherwise boil over. If you can learn this practice now, amid all the challenges of a pandemic, just think how much calmer and more peaceful you’ll be after we make it through!”
1. PAUSE: Put the brakes on reactivity.
A fun and easy way to choose mindfulness over reactivity is to place a sticker that you can direct your attention to. Those colored dot stickers work perfectly, and you can get them at almost any corner drugstore, craft store, big box retailer, or order them online.
Do you find yourself triggered while driving? Place a sticker on your dashboard. At work? Place one on the corner of your computer monitor. At home? Place one on the bathroom mirror, or on the corner of the fridge. When you look at the sticker, let it remind you to pause and take a few conscious breaths. Just that brief pause will break you out of the cycle of ruminating and worrying.
BONUS: You can even attach a happy memory to the sticker. That way, when you pause and look at it, you think of the happy memory and install a positive mental state. Take a breath or two and push that positive state into a neural trait to boost your happiness and resilience even further.
2. Practice mindful transitions.
Use mindfulness to transition more smoothly between the different areas of your life, such as from the office to home — or from work mode to family mode if you’re working remotely. Taking 5 – 10 minutes to get grounded and centered after work before you interact with your family, for example, can make a huge difference in how you show up for them.
And you can do this practice for any transition: between running errands and returning home, between weaving through traffic and meeting a friend for dinner, between dropping the kids off at school (or setting them up for remote learning) and starting your day. Tapping into mindfulness for even a few minutes as you go from one thing to the next can reduce stress and increase feelings of calm and clarity — which benefits you and everyone around you!
3. Get good at letting go.
People and situations disappoint or annoy us sometimes. That’s just a part of life — but it doesn’t have to be a part of life that ruins our whole day when it happens. Practicing forgiveness and letting go is a wonderful way to reduce stress and increase your access to calm.
There are some wonderful meditations available on these topics. I enjoy the Insight Timer meditation app, and they have a whole category on forgiveness, with meditations and talks from some wonderful teachers. Here’s a free meditation of mine called “Loving Kindness & Letting Go” to get you started.
About Julie: Julie Potiker is a mindfulness expert with extensive teacher training in a variety of tools and methods, including Mindful Self-Compassion. Through her Mindful Methods for Life program offerings and her book — “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos” — Julie helps others bring more peace and wellness into their lives. For more information, visit www.MindfulMethodsForLife.com.