Building a habit of mindfulness in stressful situations a big difficulty for practitioners. It’s already not easy to maintain the perseverance of practice in monastic life. And believe me, it is hundreds of times more demanding in a hectic and stressful modern life. Especially, when you are not always in a supportive environment of like-minded people.
Have you ever seen an exercise on mindfulness, and shrug your shoulders? Because you think that it’s impossible for you to do it? “A mindful walk in nature? Well, I’ve just come back from 1 hour of stressful traffic. 8 hours of back-to-back meetings. It’s already dark. And my house chores and children are waiting for me! A walk now seems utopic”. Or “Sitting for one-hour meditation? By the end of the day, my body is just exhausted. I don’t feel sitting up now for a meditation!”
Don’t worry. I totally understand you! Because I do struggle to keep up with mindfulness in stressful situations, even after years of practice.
Find below a few simple tips to keep yourself up.
#1. Have the courage to reorganize your life
When it comes to mindfulness in stressful situations, there is no magical solution. We must find ways to organize ourselves in a way that we have fewer activities and actions to do. Only then, we will be able to find time to listen to our inner silence, connect with nature, and enhance our mindfulness.
Therefore, do take the courage to reorganize your life, for what is important.
Firstly, simply be conscious of cutting down indispensable family activities. For example, Sundays’ full plan for sightseeing and outside activities for kids is not a must. Sometimes, a peaceful afternoon in the garden together is the best moment of connection with your children.
Secondly, when it comes to working, maybe you can review your own notions of success and competition. I remember, when I stopped working, I was afraid of having less success. For years, I was trying my best to perform higher than the expectations. But we can truly be successful when we are inspired, not when we work hard. Start practice “stopping” when it is necessary.
And lastly, be conscious of the energy of habit. It always pushes us to move and to do more. Right now, have the courage to say no to some of the charges. Sometimes, living a simpler life can bring us more joy, and a great improvement in our quality of life.
#2 Remind the importance of preserving yourself
It’s tough to have a mindful living style when we are drowning in stress and a surcharge of work and family responsibilities. If you want to keep up with mindfulness in stressful situations, forget not the importance of preserving yourself.
As a matter of fact, the “work/rest” balance has been largely lost in our society. Many of us are caught into the endless modern life rhythm, sometimes to the point of burnout. Reduce when you can the number of activities and expectations. It is a way to preserve our physical energy and the freshness of mind.
“When we lose ourselves in activities we diminish our quality of being. We do ourselves a disservice. It’s important to preserve ourselves, to maintain our freshness and good humor, our joy, and compassion.”Thich Nhat Hanh
Similarly, learn to say “no”. Your beloved ones or your manager might expect of you something. If you are tired, remind yourself of the importance of preserving yourself. It is key to be able to give them your best.
Once you can make this reminder part of your daily life, you will be able to say “No” more easily. Indeed, it’s a way to say “Yes” to mindfulness in stressful situations.
In other words, by cutting down ruthlessly your to-do list, take some short rest in between activities, and do less, you will have more time and energy. You can then give a chance to important mindful practices, such as meditation, connection with nature, or mindful walking…
Keep this as a cure in your daily life. See how your mindful practices change. Make sure you are rested, and your energy recovered. All those surrounding you will benefit from it.
#3. Start small, anytime, anywhere
This is the last tip, but not least, for mindfulness in stressful situations: Start small, and practice anytime, anywhere.
Mindfulness does not mean only sitting meditation or big retreats. Even when you lead a very busy life, you will always need to eat, brush your teeth, walk from a place to another, drive, listening to others…, won’t you? Doing these mindfully will not take more of your time. All these small habits, done consistently, will bring a big change.
- Practice mindful eating. Move mentally out of the noisy cantine at work or at home. Take a deep breath and give a silent prayer of gratitude before starting your meal. Sit down to eat. Chew mindfully. Feel the sun, the rain, the soil, and the love of hard workers that bring to you the food on your plate.
- Don’t forget mindful walking, even when you just walk a few steps from your desk to the kitchen, or to the coffee machine. Walk slowly, concentrate on your breathing, and feel each step.
- Drive mindfully, “like a Buddha” when you go to work. When you stop at the traffic light, instead of getting impatient, breathe, and watch out of the window for green trees or a white cloud.
- Practice mindful listening, when you talk with your children, or your colleagues. Take refuge in your breathing, calm your mind, and be fully present.
- Do daily short mindfulness exercises. There are a few great 5-minute mindfulness exercises here for you, do try them.
The “work/rest” balance has been largely lost in our society. Practicing mindfulness in stressful situations is more than ever, a challenge.
To keep up with our mindful practices, there is, unfortunately, no miracle: We first need to have the courage to reorganize our life for what truly means to us. Secondly, remember the importance of preserving ourselves, in order to continue. And finally, start small. You can be mindful anywhere, anytime, by applying very simple exercises.
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.”Sharon Salzberg
Will you give mindfulness a try, even in stressful situations? Be with me!