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5 Relaxation Meditation Techniques for When You’re Stressed to the Max

5 Relaxation Meditation Techniques for When You’re Stressed to the Max

Saying you’ll avoid stress is like saying you’ll avoid sweets for the rest of your life; unlucky for you, it probably won’t happen. And while that sounds like a losing battle for both the chocoholics and the super stressed out there, it’s not all bad news. Even though stress is something we all get hit with on occasion, and many times when we aren’t expecting it, we’re lucky enough to have a few tools out our disposal to help combat that gripping feeling of helplessness.

Meditation assists a great deal in battling the daily grind, and while I highly suggest making it a regular practice, not all of us are at that point in our lives. But there are other smaller techniques we can utilize to battle the overwhelming feeling we can often get when the stress is getting the best of us.

Keep in mind, all of the following can be done on the spot in an instant to help put you in a more relaxed state. It doesn’t hurt to try them out — it could be a game changer in your day. These techniques below will help you achieve relaxation no matter where you may find yourself when stress hits hard.

1. The 16 second rule

If you could take just a few seconds to shift gears, would you consider that impossible? That’s a trick question — because it’s not.

Enter the 16 second rule. Davidji, a well-known meditation expert, broke it down very simply: take 16 seconds, whenever you need it, to reset yourself. Whether you need a moment to calm down, to tone down the anger, or get into the present moment, following this simple process causes a small “pattern interruption”. What’s a pattern interruption? Think of it as a reset button, or saying no when you usually say yes. Anything that causes you to snap out of the pattern you’re in and refocus.

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Simply breath in for a count of four, hold for a count of four, release for a count of four, and you guessed it, pause for a count of four. Four minor steps at four seconds each, and you’ve got a 16 second reset. Use it whenever you need a moment or feel overwhelmed.

2. The finger trick

This trick can also be done absolutely anytime you want; on the subway, at your desk, or even waiting in line for lunch. If your mind is getting the best of you, simply place your thumb on the side of the bottom of your middle finger (closest to the base of the finger) and close your eyes. Then, breath in and out slowly a few times while putting light pressure on the middle finger with your thumb.

You should feel a slight head-rush or ever-so-small light-headed feeling when following these simple steps. Once you open your eyes, you feel a renewed sense of calm.

3. Deep breaths

This is yet another simple exercise that can be done on the spot, anytime you’re feeling overwhelmed with what life’s throwing at you.

Your eyes can be open or closed, but the idea is to inhale as deep as you possibly can. At first, you’ll probably feel your chest expanding and opening up as you inhale fairly deeply. But if you continue inhaling past that point, make it your mission to slowly expand your stomach with the last bit of that inhale.

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You might temporarily look like you just ate Chipotle’s largest burrito, but it’ll only last a second. If you can do this for five or ten breaths, you’d be surprised how relaxing it is. Most people, unfortunately, don’t breath deeply enough on a daily basis. It’s time to change that.

4. Be grateful

This one is a classic, and for a good reason.

You need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, and the best way to do that is to consistently note what you’re grateful for in your life. In order to do that, you have to actively think about the things that support it.

It can be anything from physical to mental, to intangibles like relationships, family, the work you do, or really just about anything.

Can’t find three things? You aren’t looking hard enough. I guarantee you that they’re there, and in plenty more numbers than three. The reason we don’t actively take note of what we do have is because we’re so busy comparing our lives and possessions to everyone else, there’s literally no time left to “stock your own shelves”. Social media, my spicy friends, can be the devil.

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Watch it carefully.

5. Visualization

Our brains are super powerful. In fact, scientists are still actively trying to understand our brains; there’s a lot we don’t even know.

They’re so powerful, it turns out, that we can ultimately create situations and have our bodies respond accordingly, without the situation actually occurring. Confused? Here’s a great example: imagine you have to give a public speech. Before you even get up there to deliver the speech, you already know what happens. Your palms get sweaty, your heart rate increases, you feel weak and nauseated.

But wait, you haven’t even given the speech yet. Your brain has successfully tricked your body into thinking you’re seconds away from getting in front of that crowd and spewing out your monologue.

We can see how powerful it actually is. Now it’s time to use the brain’s power to your advantage, but this time in a good way.

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Close your eyes and put yourself in a situation that you find peaceful. Is it sitting on a porch by the lake? Is it sitting on the beach, overlooking the ocean? Is it on top of a mountain soaking in the incredible valley view?

Whatever it is, really put yourself there. Feel the breeze. Smell the air, whether it’s tinged with the salty ocean or crisp pine from the forest. Hear the sounds. See the sights. Get into it. You can snap back to reality in a couple minutes, but in the meantime, you’re there — wherever you choose.

Once you make it back to the actual present moment, you’ll feel more relaxed.

Go on and be calm

The bad news is that stress is real and it’s nearly impossible to shed from your life. To try would be fruitless; life is about navigating those moments as they arise.

The good news is that there’s a multitude of tools at your disposal to help you in the moments where you’re feeling overwhelmed. You just need to be aware of them and realize they’re not hard to implement.

So the next time you’re feeling like the stress has gotten the best of you, try to use some of the techniques above. Whether it’s one, two, or all five, you’ll feel more relaxed and calm as the day wears on. Besides, knowing that you have the power to reset your day at any time should give you confidence that stress, while rough, is only temporary.

Featured photo credit: Isabell Winter via unsplash.com

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Adam Bergen

Adam Bergen is the founder of Monday Views, a movement dedicated to showing that with focus and self-discipline, your potential is limitless.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2020

10 Things to Do If You’re Feeling Hopeless About Your Future

10 Things to Do If You’re Feeling Hopeless About Your Future

Whether you’re a mother who wants the best for her children, a hard worker waiting for your promotion, or someone dealing with a personal tragedy such as a job loss, divorce, or losing a loved one, when we are feeling hopeless, we all need to dig deep to make it through these challenges.

However, hope can only be accessed once we get out of our heads and quit over-rationalizing. We need to be truly convinced that better things are in store for us. Even if things may not seem to be going right in the present, we need to believe that there’s a bigger plan that we cannot yet see.

These 10 steps will inspire you and give you the boost of hope that you need to keep going when you’re feeling hopeless about the future.

1. Take a Step Back

If you’re overwhelmed by your emotions, and if the feelings of insecurity are plaguing your mind, it’s a sign that you need to step back and engage in some serious self-care to regroup and honor your feelings.

Go for a walk, speak with a friend, take a mini-vacation, listen to music, meditate, or journal. Do anything that helps you return to center and balance.

Acknowledge and reward yourself for each milestone you reach, no matter how small. Every step you take matters and will bring you closer to your dreams.

Focus on the now by taking conscious, deep breaths and appreciating all that’s in your present moment.

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2. Revisit Your Vision and Goals

If you’ve hit a wall, it would be beneficial to revisit your goals and vision. Take note of the exact goals that you have laid out and remind yourself what inspired you to create them in the first place.

For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds, was it because your doctor recommended it or because you want to get healthier?

The key is to set goals that you’re fired up about and that you’re willing to commit to. Your goals need to be connected to an overarching vision that will galvanize you to overcome any obstacle.

Create a vision board, or write a descriptive and vivid account of what you would like to achieve.

3. Manage Your Expectations

Another possible reason that you’re losing motivation and feeling hopeless is that your expectations are too high. Often, our biggest disappointments occur from having unrealistic expectations. “Unrealistic” doesn’t always mean that you can’t achieve your goals, but that you may need more time or resources to actualize them.

For example, when opening a new store, instead of hoping to make 10K, focus on breaking even and perfecting your system of operations. Set positive and specific goals that feel manageable, especially in the beginning stages. Setting healthy expectations that are easy to reach will encourage you to keep going.

4. Have a Contingency Plan

There’s always a chance that your plans won’t work out as you hoped they would. I know that it’s hard to accept failure as a possibility without getting dejected, especially if it’s important to you.However, I’ve always found that having an alternative plan keeps failure in perspective[1].

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A plan B is like a safety net, there to catch you in case you lose your grip. In creating a contingency plan, it’s essential to assess what went wrong in your previous plan.

What could you have done differently? What are the lessons from the experience that can equip you with the knowledge to get it right the next time around? Ask friends, mentors, and coaches for candid feedback to supplement your own insights.

Let a solid plan B comfort you in knowing that failure is not the end of the road but merely a bend that’s leading you somewhere else.

You can learn how to create a solid contingency plan here.

5. Find Sources of Positive Reinforcement

Hope is like a candle flame that can burn out without constant positive reinforcement. We need reminders to stimulate us with hope about the future. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to be inspired, such as acknowledging our small successes along the way and remembering the times when we were able to overcome obstacles.

You can also find inspiration in books, music, movies, affirmation, and other people’s stories. I also love being in the presence of young children who radiate optimism. Find your own unique sources of motivation that work for you and do your best to stay away from the black hole of social media.

6. Have a Strong Circle of Support

As social beings, we benefit tremendously from having support from a community of people that matter to us when we are feeling hopeless. Friends and family members are the primary lifeline for most of us, but we can also extend our network to include a trusted group of mentors, coaches, counselors, or a support group who are open to hearing our story and who believe in the vision that we have for our life.

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Whenever we’re down and out, these are the people who can be a source of comfort and help us get back in the game.

7. Stay in Touch With Your Vision

It’s easier to feel hopeful when we’re guided by a strong vision for our future. That’s why it’s essential to clarify your vision and future plans.

Goal-setting, vision boards, and visualization are a couple of techniques that can give shape to our dreams. By committing to these practices, our vision will become more tangible and within our reach.

Touching base with our goals will make them feel real and give us a focal point towards which we can direct all of our energy.

8. Stay Well-Informed and Be Proactive

Without knowledge and action, hope is just psychological fluff. Hope should propel us to seek out more information about what we desire and take directed steps towards realizing it.

Knowledge is power, as the saying goes, and it gives us the capacity to make more mindful choices. It strengthens our belief that we have what it takes to influence outcomes and to consciously move forward.

9. Stay Focused on the Present Moment

Hope has a future orientation and can, therefore, direct our thoughts away from the present. It’s essential that you don’t spend too much time planning for the future as this can lead to feeling hopeless.

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Even though we want things to get better, we have to make peace with where we are in our current lives. This quiet acceptance will give us inner peace and prevent us from becoming overly attached to future outcomes[2].

Stay present to overcome feeling hopeless

    The truth is that the present moment is all we’ll ever have, and we should make every effort to capture its beauty and essence as we go through it.

    10. Practice Gratitude

    Gratitude generates a feeling of warmth and abundance. Based on the Law of Attraction[3], the more appreciative that you are for all that you have, material or otherwise, the more you’re likely to attract good things to you and improve your mental health.

    The next time you’re feeling down about the future, take a deep breath and think of all the wonderful things and people around you. You’ll feel an instant shift in how you see your life when you see how many things in your life you can be grateful for.

    You can start spending time with a gratitude journal or think of a few things you’re thankful for on a daily basis.

    The Bottom Line

    The next time you feel hopeless while waiting for things to happen in your life, remember that life is ultimately about the journey and not the destination. Hold your dreams close to your heart, work steadily towards them, but don’t forget to look around you and appreciate the gift of being alive on this beautiful planet.

    More on How to Stop Feeling Hopeless

    Featured photo credit: Jurica Koletić via unsplash.com

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