Practical Mindfulness:  Untangle Stress with LOVE

Feeling stressed? Tied up in knots?

After the holidays have passed and we settle into our new resolutions and regular demands of our lives and our work, suddenly the stress feels big again. How can we get everything on our to-do lists done and manage the stress?

The answer may seem counterintuitive or selfish, but it’s actually a selfless act to slow down, carve out time for tuning into ourselves and notice what’s happening before the stress takes on a life of its own.  Only when we practice self-compassion and self-care can we extend it to others in our lives.

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Here are 4 easy ways to LOVE yourself, which can increase resilience when faced with stress:

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Listen to your body. Increase awareness of the quality of your shoulders, face – are you hunched over? Is your brow tight? How about your jaw? Is there tightness or constriction in your chest or belly? Try the “door meditation” – check in with your body before you open a door and enter a new space. This is especially helpful before entering home after a long day.

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Open yourself to experiencing all the feelings  – especially the difficult ones. Invite awareness, describe it in as much detail as possible (e.g., “My chest feels heavy, I notice sadness and loneliness” or “My shoulders are tense, maybe I’m worried or anxious about something”). Get curious about the feeling and explore it without judging it as “good” or “bad.”

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Validate the feeling, and remind yourself that everyone experiences the same emotions and also struggles with them. Observe what happens when you extend compassion to yourself for having these common feelings – validate the situation, perhaps thinking what you might say to a friend if he or she experienced the same situation and feelings.

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Experience the power of your own breath as a grounding action to send LOVE, compassion and release to the tightness or heaviness in your body, then notice the emotion and thoughts.  Are they any smaller? Are they more manageable?

By Dr. Liz Chamberlain

 

For more individual support with stress management or to learn how mindfulness and self-compassion can help, schedule an initial visit with Dr. Liz Chamberlain in the Wellness Clinic at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. To get scheduled with Dr. Liz, just call one of our wonderful  Wellness Clinic schedulers at 303.724.9030, extension 1.

Liz Chamberlain, PhD