Being Mindful When Life Gets Crazy
Robert Gardner, Ph.D., LPC
Wouldn’t it be nice if life wasn’t so stressful? What if life events at work and home unfolded in ways that we could manage? Although we may find ourselves regularly wishing for such a life, the truth is that life gets crazy! And sometimes there’s so much to get done or to think about that we feel stressed out. Wishing for life to be different isn’t the answer. So what is? Here are a few suggestions.
Making Time to Breathe
In our busy life we find ourselves ‘making time’ for the important stuff; however, somehow the most important person gets left out—we forget about ourselves. And if we consider doing even something simple for ourselves, it makes us feel guilty. But what if we simply make better use of something we’re already doing—and that something is breathing.
When we’re busy completing our daily tasks, we’re breathing at all times. So while we’re breathing, why not make the most of it! Whenever you notice that you’re feeling tense, or you’re not paying attention to what’s happening because you’re thinking of everything you need to get done, try deepening your breath for a few minutes. It won’t slow you down or get in the way of what you’re doing—in fact by being more aware of your breathing, you’ll feel more in the present moment and less stressed out.
Write it Down
Trying to keep mental to-do lists can be highly stressful. We worry about whether we’ve forgotten anything. We become anxious about forgetting and have to remind ourselves about it over and over again. This constant stream of forward thinking makes it hard to live in the present moment and can even interrupt our sleep at night.
Instead of storing everything in your mind, try putting your thoughts on paper. Writing everything down gives the mind an opportunity to let go and relax for a while. In addition to being an efficient way of managing your busy life, this is also a great way to take care of yourself.
The stress of being busy can take its toll, and as a result we may become angry, worried, irritable or depressed. It’s during these moments of distress or discomfort that we could use a little self-compassion—and a little goes a long way! Regular, small acts of self-compassion can drastically transform your day.
Research shows that treating ourselves compassionately triggers the production of oxytocin – a hormone which helps us feel loved and safe. Interestingly, when we are compassionate with ourselves, oxytocin is released in the same way as when someone demonstrates compassion to us. With this in mind, we don’t have to wait for someone else to care for us—caring for ourselves has the same effect.
So next time you notice that you’re feeling distressed or uncomfortable, try wrapping your arms around yourself for a compassionate hug, or try gently stroking your own arm or face, while gently acknowledging how hard things are for you right now. Talk to yourself, either out loud or inwardly, in the same way you would to a friend who was feeling overwhelmed or stressed by having so much to do. See how it changes your experience.
Managing Stress: Living Well Seminar
Don’t let stress control your life. Join Robert Gardner, PH.D, Director of Psychosocial Oncology, on May 19 at 12pm in the Presidents Room to learn how to manage your stress effectively with stress management activities and relaxation techniques. Registration is required. Click here to register online, or call 504-897-8500.
Robert Gardner, Ph.D., LPC is Director of Psychosocial Oncology at Touro Infirmary and administers all aspects of Touro’s Supportive Cancer Care Center. Dr. Gardner earned his Ph.D.. from the University of New Orleans in 2008. He completed his Internship at Tulane Cancer Center in 2005, where he also served as Clinical Mental Health Counselor from 2006 – 2008. Dr. Gardner is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Louisiana.