Have you ever tried to run away from a lion while eating a sandwich?….

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But so many of us do this each and every day.

Sometimes we might get a bite, and bonus… The lion didn’t catch us, but eventually we will get too tired to run.

The point? How can you ever truly relax and be present (and eat your sandwich!) if your body is constantly fuelled by adrenaline and under stress (and ready to run)

All too often we go about our daily life, thinking about something else other than the task at hand – our body becomes acquainted and accustomed to reacting to constant stressors and ultimately, becomes overreactive, leaving our body in a constant fight or flight situation.

Each stressor that we endure, be it work, a bill, a relationship…throws itself onto the pile and we are left with the mental work up and work out- Before gradually that pile takes its toll on our body.

Have you ever tried to enjoy your favourite tv programme but you realise you have no idea what’s happened, because you have been mentally planning the email you need to write tomorrow?

Or you get to work and realise you aren’t quite sure if it was you that drove the car, or it somehow magically did it itself. Sound familiar? –  It’s time to switch off.

Let’s talk about Stress.

Stress. We have all heard of it, we have probably all certainly felt it, but we are probably not talking about it. And the proverbial elephant in the room is more prevalent than ever.

When we bleed we stem the flow, when we break, we use a cast, when we get lost we ask for help…so why is it when we suffer stress, many of us choose to ignore it?

It can worsen pain, or cause it to begin with. It can lead to muscle tension, a stiff neck, stomach ache, back ache, digestion problems, feeling sick, feeling dizzy, headaches, tiredness, lack of sleep (despite being tired), irritability – and that might all be on a ‘good day’!

Besides the physical toll of not managing stress, we can fall into the involuntary habit over ‘over reacting’ , the constant adrenaline resets the threshold for when our body goes into fight or flight and situations can quickly become overwhelming, little things seem like big things and we spend our days, rather like a tightly coiled spring.

Sometimes we need to run from the lion. But sometimes we only need to walk because it isn’t really a lion- merely a cat. And being able to know the difference, is something we can all achieve. Stressors will inevitably come your way, but how you deal with it has more bearing than you realise.

Don’t just make it through the day, live through it.

It may have become a normal part of your life-  juggling more jobs than you have hands- constantly thinking on your feet, snatching time here and there. Paracetamol for your headache, chocolate for an energy boost, coffee for your afternoon slump and so it goes on…But, if there was just some time to take a moment and assess. To enjoy that tv programme, or reading your book or playing in the garden with the kids..if there was just some time.

With 24 whole hours in the day, there is time- time you let your heart rate settle, to bring your thoughts back under control and to wholly live in the moment. You are not alone in forgetting to do that.

Let’s be Mindful and Meditate.

The skills learned in mindfulness and meditation can be adapted in to your every day life and with a little practice each day, they will become second nature. There is no religion or philosophy involved and no complicated processes; but consistency is key.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is not about fixing our problems or even forgetting them- It is a way of approaching life that allows us to focus on a given situation- good times and bad.

When we are mindful, we not only acknowledge our emotions and thoughts, we accept them- without giving ourselves a hard time about why we are feeling them . So without judgement, we notice how they are making us feel and the physical and emotional sensations we are experiencing along with them.

Mindful Meditation

Mindful meditation gives us the opportunity to practice being in the here and now, there are many ways to practice mindful meditation; at Zafu, we particularly like to practice using the breath and body scans. it lasts for a set amount of time- (we would always recommend 30 mins at least) , where you will focus on one specific thing and learn to bring your mind back when it begins to wonder.

When you are stressed, upset, angry..it is easy to lose control, to to be caught up and overwhelmed by emotions. It can lead to responses that are counterproductive and damaging to our physical and emotional health, Mindfulness allows you to bring this under control and avoid negative, repetitive and damaging thoughts encroaching into your day. In time, with practice, mindful meditation gives you the tools to take each moment as it comes, so that when the tough stuff comes along, you have a better chance of responding calmly, patiently and thoughtfully and not being held back. And when the good stuff comes along you can enjoy it to its full potential!