To reduce stress it’s important to calm your mind. Not only did I start walking for my body I also started walking to help me calm my mind and reduce stress levels. Life can be tough and at times we don’t seem to have a moment to ourselves and the time to relax our mind! I thought relaxing would be easy however I didn’t realise that I would have to learn how to relax! I wanted to share with you my tips on how to relax your mind and reduce your stress levels. Walking for me is about health but it’s also about well-being.
The importance of learning how to relax your mind to reduce stress
The process of continuously thinking about the same thoughts, which tend to be sad or dark, is called “rumination” Scientific research supports the view that doing this can be harmful to our mind and our body. However, just saying stop ruminating isn’t going to work! Well not in my case anyway. The more I tell myself to stop thinking about something the more I think about it!
When I consider all the rumination I have done over the years I seem to focus on the negative stuff. This then has me feeling stress, I then spiral in to a dark place and can’t seem to get out off because of all the negative thoughts. This can often lead to chronic stress, which isn’t great as it can lead to a host of problems with with physical stress, mental stress, and can impact upon your emotional health. Before getting on to the tips for combating this, I wanted to share with you the negative effects of when we ruminate on something negative.
- Ruminating on an issue can impact on your sleep. In fact the amount of time when we don’t ruminate decreases as the stress levels increase. This really does leave no time to relax and recover. It’s like being switched on 24/7 and you body and mind isn’t getting the rest it needs.
- When our boys were small, we shared with them how their body recovers from illness. We talked about the cells fighting the germs and how our body recovers and repairs itself during sleep. If we are stressed and ruminate continually over our problems our body takes longer to recover. What also can happen to our bodies is that it could produce more cortisol when we are stressed which means our bodies can’t handle the stress which can lead to chronic stress.
- When we are stressed and ruminate our creativity and ability to think through problems reduces. These problem solving skills are so essential to our every day life. We use them at work and at home. Not only is our creativity impacted but our ability to solve any problem also reduces. This can then lead to us becoming even more stressed!
If we can clear out mind and reduce our stress levels then it will help us to stop ruminating, it will help us get a better night’s sleep, it will help you increase our creativity, it will help us problem-solve and it will help us to focus. It can be easier said than done to let go of negative thoughts and emotions and to clear your mind. Below I have listed some ways you can learn to do this and enjoy your life now.
Meditation has helped me on many occasions. First of all it helps to relax and calm your mind in the here and now. However, if you continue with meditation you will be able to tap in to it when any stressful situation arises without having to lie down and listen to structured session. Meditation can help clear your mind from negative thoughts which are causing you problems. It can help you deal with the stress you are feeling and it helps you become more resilient to future stress too!
Cognitive reframing is based on cognitive behavior therapy or CBT, it is a technique that can help people identify, challenge and alter stress-inducing thought patterns and beliefs. It is about changing those continual negative patterns. We can learn to alter our perceptions or thoughts on a particular issue to more positive ones helping us be more optimistic and in return helping us to relax.
I love journaling but what is even better is gratitude journaling! Writing down all the wonderful things you are grateful for. This helps to shift your focus from the negative to the positive. In fact there has also been research done that shows if you have an attitude of gratitude (I’m a poet!) it helps you relax. I think having a journal is a wonderful thing. I can remember visiting a family in America when I was young and they gave me a journal. I used to write what I got up to during the days and it was lovely looking back on it. Writing in a journal before bed is also a great way of getting all the stuff that is swirling round it out! It will help you become more relaxed.
It’s Good to Talk
Having someone to talk to can help you reduce your stress. A problem shared is a problem halved is an old saying that is so true. You also get emotional support from friends who you can talk to. They also have a different perspective on things and can help you see things clearly again. You can also go out for walks with your friends in the fresh air which is great for your mood too.
Mindful Walking to Reduce Stress
Walking meditation, or what it is commonly known these days is mindful walking. It is the practice of walking which requires you to be aware of your environment. This is certainly different to other forms of mediation that requires you to focus say on your breathing. For me, mindful walking brings me closer to nature, to my surroundings and what is happening to my body. It also helps me reduce stress. I’ve also found that it helps to strengthen my concentration, it makes me more aware of what is going on around me and it helps connect me to the present moment rather than rushing ahead to what is in store later or indeed tomorrow. Above all it helps me deal with stress. you can read how to practice mindful walking here.
I hope these tips on how to calm your mind and reduce stress are helpful. These have worked for me and I’m sure they can work for you too and you will be able to deal with life’s ups and downs.
Happy stress free walking!