How to Reduce Stress with Self-Empathy
We talk so much about the fast lane, and the speed in which we run at life. Day in and day out we struggle through our never-ending to-do list in a cycle of an always on work-life balancing act. How often, though, do we stop to look at the impact of this speed on our emotional wellbeing and our self-empathy?
When we are stressed, we revert to short termism. Our bodies naturally default to protective mode; a mode physiologically built into us as humans when the brain detects inherent stress in and around the body. We produce stress hormones, namely cortisol and adrenalin, and in our constant ‘fight or flight’ mode, our figurative ‘stress switch’ remains in the ‘on’ position for days at a time. The alarm bells ring; we might feel exhausted, anxious, unhealthy or unhappy, but often it takes far too long for us to register how we are feeling. In a blur we find that we have forgotten ourselves, our own health and our own feelings. Our self-empathy radar is entirely lost.
What we know about the brain though is that by directing it focusedly towards a more positive state has a direct and immediate impact, and that we can begin to replace the stress cycle mindset with a more expansive, restorative and generous one. By actively focusing on our self-empathy, we can improve our emotional wellbeing and our outlook. Change is therefore entirely within our grasp.
The next time you feel the heavy halo effect of stress, try these three tips to putting self-empathy back on your agenda;
i. Perspective: take time to consider your now. How do you feel? Where is the stress in your body? Once you have registered this take 10 minutes to actively focus on your breath or on a short meditation. One of my favorite apps to help with this is Synctuition (now available free in the UAE) because they offer short guided sessions that can quickly help you reset.
ii. Joyful effort: joy is both contagious and curative. Focus on finding something that truly makes you happy but that takes a little effort. Paint a picture, collaborate on a project, take some photos or go for a swim. Find something joyful that actively requires you to focus on it and you will soon find you are feeling entirely differently.
iii. Define your purpose: when you find your purpose, life becomes more effortless. Work out what is important to you? What are your values? Does your day to day reality meet these? When you find yourself in line with your purpose your self-empathy, and self-belief, will naturally rise.
Life in the fast lane can ultimately result in life with a narrow lane view of our reality, and this is a state that is no good for any of us. Focus on flipping your stress switch to off, and watch as you switch on an entirely new mindset.