1. Adjust Your Breath
When you’re under stress, your breaths spontaneously become fast, short, and shallow.
That breathing pattern strains your body and creates a downward spiral of more and more stress.
So, it’s good practice to adjust your breath whenever you feel stressed.
All you have to do is follow the three simple rules of optimal breathing:
- Breathe through your nose.
- Breathe into your belly.
- Exhale longer than you inhale.
By deliberately breathing slowly, deeply, and rhythmically, you’ll signal your nervous system to calm down.
And that, in turn, will spark physiological processes to put your body and mind at ease.
2. Practice Cognitive Defusion
If you’re having stressful thoughts, that’s not a problem.
It only becomes a problem if you “fuse” with the thoughts and can’t separate yourself from them.
Imagine, for instance, that you’re preparing a presentation for work, and your inner voice says, “Gah, I can’t do this! I suck at presenting!”
If you’re fused with that thought, you’ll accept it as an objective truth, which allows it to wreak havoc in your mind.
But thoughts aren’t objective truths — they’re subjective interpretations.
And you can remind yourself of that by practicing cognitive defusion.
Notice your thoughts, step away from them, and treat them as clouds floating through the sky of your mind.
That way, negative thoughts won’t stir as many negative feelings.
3. Accept What Is
Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
Imagine, for instance, that you’ve injured your leg.
The pain you experience comes from the damaged tissue.
Any suffering you experience comes from your resistance to the pain.
“I hate this pain! Why won’t it go away? I wish it would just stop!”
Thoughts like these can add a tremendous amount of suffering to your pain.
So, try to accept what is instead of resisting it.
Witness and allow the painful feelings in your body and anxious thoughts in your mind.
Let go of your resistance and let your current situation be exactly the way it is.
It won’t eliminate the pain but it will drastically reduce your suffering.
And that will make your situation much easier to deal with.