4 ways to calm your mind in stressful times

Stress refers to your body's reaction to challenges and demands. Stress can be positive or negative and there are healthy ways to deal with it. Sleeping well is quite important in stress management. Let’s dig into some more ways to calm your mind in stressful times:

1. Exercise regularly. In addition to having physical health benefits, exercise has been shown to be a powerful stress reliever. Consider non-competitive aerobic exercise, strengthening with weights, or movement activities like yoga or Tai Chi, and set reasonable goals for yourself. Setting realistic goals is necessary otherwise your goals will leave you frustrated. Aerobic exercise has been shown to release endorphins - natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude.

2. Study and practice relaxation techniques. Taking the time to relax every day helps to manage stress and to protect the body from the effects of stress. You can choose from a variety of techniques, such as deep breathing, imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation. There are many online and smart phone apps that provide guidance on these techniques; although some entail purchase costs, many are available free of charge.

3. Practice breathing exercises. As simple as it sounds, breathing mindfully can have a huge effect on your stress and anxiety levels. The connection between the mind and body is strong and slowing your breathing can help to calm your nervous system. Try what’s called four-square or box breathing: inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, exhale for four seconds and hold for another four seconds. Repeat as many times as you need in order to calm yourself down. The best part of this technique is that you can literally do it anywhere - even in the middle of a high-anxiety meeting or while having a one-on-one conversation with someone who’s stressing you out. Think of it as your secret weapon against stress! Sit or lie down in a quiet place, take a deep breath through your nose, and breathe out slowly through your mouth, or your nose if it feels better.

4. Meditate. Mindfulness is an ancient form of meditation that promotes awareness of what’s happening in the moment. It encourages you to focus on your body, your thoughts, and what’s going on around you. Mantra meditation, on the other hand, is the opposite of mindfulness. In this practice, you place all your attention on a single target, like a mantra, a candle flame, or a phrase. In both types of meditations, whenever your mind wanders - you simply re-focus. It's a brain skill. In that in the first 2 weeks you won't be able to do it very well. Your mind will constantly chatter and distract, and that's normal, that happens. But as you practice, you’ll get better at it. When you picture meditation, do you think of a Buddhist monk sitting atop a peaceful mountaintop in a perfect lotus position, Om-ing for hours? Well, meditation can be way less intense - and a lot less time-consuming than that. In fact, starting with a just a few minutes of meditation per day can be hugely effective at reducing anxiety and helping you to chill out overall.

So, practice these ways when you are facing a stressful situation to relax yourself and you’ll see a visible difference.