We’re often told that we should face our problems head-on, and it’s no different when it comes to stress. For most, the main areas of stress are home and work life, resulting from feelings of disappointment or being overwhelmed with responsibilities that could bubble over into conflict. While easier said than done, practicing mindfulness techniques in times of conflict can calm the body, acting as a form of stress management.
Stress at Home
Conflict at home is inevitable, as it’s easy to take out your stress on those closest to you. Maybe you have been arguing non-stop with your spouse and, on top of that, are dealing with a hormonal teenager who doesn’t seem to understand the word “no.” The result is often high anxiety and stress in what should be a place of peace and relaxation.
Stress at Work
Similarly, work can raise stress levels. Perhaps you didn’t receive a promotion that you felt you deserved, or you’re not seeing eye-to-eye with a coworker on an important project. With either example, you’re faced with an outcome you don’t like.
So how can we manage or diminish the stress of these situations? One of the most practical ways to handle stress is by practicing mindfulness. The smallest adjustment in one’s thought pattern and approach can make all the difference when it comes to dealing with conflict.
First, focus on your breathing. Take a deep breath in for three seconds, paying attention to the sensation of the air entering your lungs, then exhale for three seconds, imaging yourself breathing out the stress that you’re feeling. Continue until you feel in a more relaxed state.
Experts say mindful breathing exercises become easier to perform in difficult situations over time with regular practice. This technique is suggested for stress because it has the ability to lower your blood pressure and heart rate due to the parasympathetic nervous system becoming activated.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, one of the simplest mindfulness training exercises is known as present moment sensation. This requires an individual to adjust their focus on the present moment; for example, by picking up an object and focusing on its texture, smell and shape. This technique redirects your attention, even if for a short amount of time.
Lastly, it’s important to achieve a level of awareness in the moment. This entails noticing and acknowledging your reaction to the conflict, avoiding negative speech and coming up with a positive resolution. This technique allows you to pause and move forward effectively without saying something you may regret later.
Practicing mindfulness techniques allows you to approach situations with a non-judgmental attitude. You can be present and observe your feelings as they come rather than react negatively as a result of not giving yourself enough time to process the situation. Understanding that stress exists in all of our lives is the first step to approaching it in a positive way.