For some people, life is a joyous adventure, while for others it’s full of stress and disappointment. The difference between these people is often how they take on challenges, how they face their fears, how they deal with negativity and, of course, the techniques they use to cope with stressful situations. While one person may freak out and go into a depressive state when faced with a situation that seems dire, another person may see the situation as an opportunity to learn and to grow.
In this post, I would like to focus on those of you who tend to feel overwhelmed by life’s stresses, and to discuss how developing mindfulness can help. Mindfulness techniques can help you gain control of your emotions, reduce your stress level and enjoy a higher quality of life, all while avoiding the adverse side-effects that some people experience by relying on medications to treat common mental health concerns like stress, anxiety, and depression.
3 Stages to Learning Mindfulness and Gaining Control of Your Emotions
Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.
– Thich Nhat Hanh
What is mindfulness
We often hear the word “mindfulness” used when discussing stress relief, but many people do not understand exactly what the term means. Mindfulness is often associated with meditation, and not without reason. But while meditation is one particular way of reaching this state of mind, there is much more to mindfulness than simply daily meditation.
Mindful.org explains that mindfulness means to be acutely aware of your surroundings and your circumstances, including where you are and what you are busy doing. At the same time, mindfulness includes not being overwhelmed by your current environment.
Achieving mindfulness has numerous benefits for the human body – not only physical benefits, but also psychological benefits related to mental and emotional well-being. Mindfulness is especially useful for those who are experiencing depression symptoms, as well as anxiety and other mental illnesses.
Recent studies have proven that mindfulness lowers stress levels and even enhances spiritual intelligence and performance. Furthermore, it causes positive changes to occur in the brain. The benefits of mindfulness are even present when we are not actively practicing this mental exercise.
The journey of mindfulness
Now that we have discussed the many benefits that you can achieve through mindfulness, it is time to look at some practical ways that you can practice mindfulness and become more aware of yourself and your surroundings, while enjoying the full range of emotional and mental benefits it has to offer. There are many ways a person can practice mindfulness and start their journey to becoming more self-aware.
We must go beyond the constant clamor of ego, beyond the tools of logic and reason, to the still, calm place within us: the realm of the soul.
– Deepak Chopra (more quotes)
The most obvious method for practicing mindfulness and reaching a state of improved self-awareness is meditation, as mentioned above. Meditation alone already has many mental health benefits for those who practice regularly, including improving memory and alleviating less severe symptoms of anxiety or depression.
To get started with meditation, simply sit upright in a comfortable position, and then close your eyes and breathe naturally. Pay attention to how you are breathing without making an effort to control it. You should keep your mind from wandering as much as possible and, if and when it does (it will), you need to gently bring your focus back to your breathing patterns, without judging yourself or getting frustrated. While this isn’t all there is to meditation (you can read more in Goalcast’s 4-step guide), it does provide you with a basic idea for getting you started.
2. Letting go of emotions
By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond winning.
– Lao Tzu
When it comes to emotions, it is important to observe your own feelings, but in such a way that you are not judgmental of yourself. It is perfectly normal and healthy to experience both positive and negative types of emotions, such as anger, happiness, sadness, frustration and more. Try to identify each emotion and add it to an appropriate category. This will help you become more aware of your own emotions. Do not hold on to the emotions that you are experiencing. Instead, notice them, accept them, learn from them, and then move on.
3. Achieving a state of self-awareness
Be yourself, but always your better self.
– Karl Maeser
Practicing mindfulness may not be an easy task when you are only getting started. You might find it difficult to observe your own emotions without judging them. You might also find it difficult to become more aware of yourself without judging the smaller things you experience.
It’s a long and ongoing journey. But once you reach a state of self-awareness, you will notice that you automatically start to gain more control over different aspects of your own life.
For example, you will still experience angry emotions, but when you are more aware of yourself, you will be able to recognize it and let it pass, instead of clinging to whatever made you angry and allowing your feelings to overtake you and bring you down.
The more you practice mindfulness techniques, the easier it becomes to be fully aware of your surroundings without being judgmental and without feeling overwhelmed by what is going on. Soon, you’ll begin to experience a state of loving kindness, a higher quality of life, and the ability to have more control over your mind.
While medication is often recommended to individuals who exhibit signs of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems, the side-effects caused by these treatment options are unpleasant. Instead of utilizing such treatment options, alternative remedies can be utilized. In this post, we have focused on mindfulness as a way to be in complete control of your own emotions, and to help you find relief in the most stressful of situations.