Stress is lethal—it messes with your body and can disrupt how you feel and function. It can cause everything from breakouts and
bleedinggumstostrokes, heart disease, stomach problems and for men, erectile dysfunction. Stress can make you forgetful, more fickle and agitated. It will make you gain weight, lose hair, disrupt sleep (which leads to all kinds of other side effects) and generally is an impediment to your happiness and wellbeing.
So why don’t we do more to tackle this monster?
It’s important to understand what kind of stress you have. There is stress that comes from your mind, and there is a stress that originates from your heart. For now, let’s focus on ‘mind stress.’
Eckhart Tolle says that “All stress comes from resisting the present moment”—namely, wanting to be somewhere else or do something other than what you are doing right now. And all this resistance to the present moment happens in your mind.
Maybe you are sitting in traffic and thinking about all the places you’d rather be—like at home with your kids or on the couch watching Netflix and eating nachos. That’s agonizing, but it’s your mind that’s causing the stress. Or maybe you are thinking about someone who ticked you off at the office, or about a family squabble, a work deadline, or why your husband (or wife) isn’t doing more around the house. Or maybe you wish you were in a different
or living in a different city…
Your mind is constantly thinking, comparing, judging and analyzing, and this takes you away from enjoying what could otherwise be a pleasurable moment. Roughly 90% of your daily stress arrives in this way. And it’s totally unnecessary.
You have to learn how to give your mind a break, a mini-vacation.
As the street artist Banksy put it, “One of the simplest ways to stay happy is letting go of the things that make you sad.” Let’s discover how to do just this.
We intuitively know how to deal with stress. In
every human pastime from sports, to spending time in nature, listening to music or dancing comes from the human desire to transcend the mind and get back into the heart. This is because the heart is the seat of life. It represents your core, your being and the place from which your life energy flows. We are not supposed to live in our minds, which is why every ancient civilization pointed to the heart when referring to the mind.
We love vacations because the novelty of our new surroundings gets us out of our mind and into
the_experience_. Vacations force us to live in the now and to escape our usual overthinking.
Why do people drink alcohol? Simple: alcohol numbs the thinking part of your brain and connects you to
and the feeling aspect of your being.
Similarly, sex puts you back in touch with your physical body and gets you out of your neurotic, analytical mind. Try thinking about the boss or your sales targets when you are about to orgasm.
Bungee-jumping and extreme sports offer another kind of escape. People love pushing themselves to the edge by standing on a cliff or jumping from an airplane or skiing down a mountain slope. Why? Because the closer you are to death, the more alive you feel. As Joseph Campbell put it, “You and I aren’t looking for the meaning of life. That’s not it. What we are really looking for is the experience, the feeling of being alive.”
And so although we are born without an analytical mind, the purpose of growing up is to return to that same place, that same free-flowing state of no-mind, albeit with the understanding, wisdom
knowledgewegainthrough the world of experience.
So if you are feeling overwhelmed by life right now and are experiencing very high levels of stress, here are 11 tips to get you out of your mind and into the moment. Choose any three of these tips and act upon them for at least three weeks (the amount of time it takes for your brain to rewire itself), and you’ll begin to notice real changes.
By chilling with other beings that are just being, you learn to do the same. Take a walk in the park, or at the beach, or in the forest.
Animals don’t think; they just are, which causes us to relax when we spend time with them. As a result, cat owners enjoy a 30% reduction in heart attack risk, while stroking a dog boosts the immune system.
Get more of it. Sex will get you out of your mind and into your body fast. (but hopefully not too fast!)
Exercise releases endorphins that are comparable to sex. Get your heart rate up for at least 10 minutes a day, and you’ll start to become more grounded and less neurotic. Physical movement is one of the best ways to manage stress.
It’s amazing what a good night of sleep can do for you. Your mind needs it. It needs to shut off from the conscious analytical part of your brain in order to reboot. Make sure to invest in a comfy bed and get curtains to block out sunlight so you can sleep longer and deeper.
Dance like nobody’s watching and something beautiful will happen. Your mind will stop dancing and become perfectly still as your body moves to the music.
Close your eyes, put on your favourite track and let the music take you somewhere out of your mind and into a feeling of nostalgia or inspiration or love. There’s simply nothing better to get out of your mind than music.
The whole point of meditation is to get you out of your head by concentrating on one thing—and ultimately, nothing. Start by focusing on your breath as you inhale and exhale for a minute a day. Just watch and notice your breath as it goes in an out. Then do this for two minutes, and then three. It’s that simple.
Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke! Laughter forces you to be in the moment. It’s like a mini–mind vacation. Try laughter yoga, or surround yourself with people who tell great jokes and are lighthearted. It’s contagious.
When you serve other people you automatically shift your point of reference from yourself (the mind) to someone else. You are not thinking about your own predicament, but feeling a sense of compassion and empathy toward someone else. In fact, service is how people with the greatest amount of mental trauma and stress, such as Holocaust survivors, were able to cope with and overcome their trauma.
11. Social media cleanse
Put your cell phones away after 9 or 10 pm each night, and don’t turn it on immediately after you wake up. The Instagram pics of people’s puppies, or yoga poses or yogurt bowls can wait until after breakfast. And if you are really up to the challenge, turn your cell off for a full day on the weekend. It’s what filmmaker Tiffany Shlain calls “technology Shabbat.” Make it a ritual.
Your quality of life depends not on what you think, but where you live emotionally, day to day. Your quality of life is in your heart, not in your mind—it’s how you_feel_. So if you want to crush stress, you have to start shifting your centre of gravity from your mind to your heart. Stop thinking about your life and start living it. Enjoy it. Because trust me, you will never be as young as you are now.
Heralded by Deepak Chopra as an emerging spiritual leader for the next generation, Elan Divon is an author, social entrepreneur, speaker and mentor. His approach blends ancient wisdom with proven personal development strategies into a unique system called Initiation.