How to Use Tension in a Productive Way

Photo by Monica Leonardi

We tend to want to eliminate completely built-up stress, either through activities that clear our mind, such as meditation or exercise, or through activities that give us pleasure at the expense of our long-term wellbeing – drinking, stress eating etc. Focusing on tension release without accounting for the long-term impact of how we do it creates a bigger negative impact in the long run than the immediate positive effect.

Experiencing tension is a good opportunity to pause and understanding what led us to this moment. Is it frustration with our own decisions or some things that are outside of our control. Once we understand the root cause, we can empower ourselves to change the way we react to situations. Reactions are natural, but they are also specific to each individual. We react based on what we perceive as normal. A broader example is how some cultures celebrate death, while others celebrate the birth of a child. Our values are specific to us.

Tension is our body and brain reacting to events throughout the day and storing a sense of alertness that cannot be maintained for a long period of time. Managing tension is a life skill that allows us to clear out the clouds and see the sky clearly. Under a clear sky we are more likely to stick to our path than in semi-darkness. Also, seeing more friends than threats in people will attract more kindness.

What Do We Tell Ourselves in Bed at Night?

Photo by Kevin Escate

You are getting all cozed-up after a long day of work and growth, with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Or maybe you just went straight to bed, fallen flat on your tummy and let sleep take over. Either way, we are about to get our system rebooted. But the data that we input last will be picked up first in the morning. A bit of an irony when you think about an orderly lineup in processing information.

We can give ourselves the opportunity to be bright and excited next day by introducing three simple practices in our evening routine:

  1. Detach from work through a buffer activity – yoga, meditation, reading, listening to music or a nice bath
  2. Be thankful for what you’ve achieved, kindness, love and health
  3. Visualize yourself succeeding, being accomplished, making the difference you want to make into the world and add some descriptions of who you want to become – powerful, in control, creative, committed

Paying attention for ten minutes to our thoughts today and stirring them into the direction we want to go to will have a great impact on the next day and the next day and the next day. Our future is now.

Daily Practices to Save Your Groundhog Day

Photo by Samuel Toh

Do you get a sense that you are waking up and living every day as if it’s the same? Wash your face, prepare breakfast or a protein shake, do mindless activities that might include work, watching tv, scrolling through news feeds, get groggy in the morning and grumpy in the evening etc. Well, a day is only as good as you make it.

Making Yourself Happy

Waking up with a smile on your face is not an old wives (or husbands) tale. It takes as little as practicing gratitude before going to sleep – the last thought in the evening will be your first thought in the morning. Add a 10-15 minutes meditation practice and you’ll be able to make smarter decisions by removing some of the stress buildup.

Meditation – where do I begin?

You don’t have to go fancy with learning how to meditate. If you’re new to the practice, an app as simple as Oak can get you a long way. Ultimately is about the intention of doing better choices and building yourself up for success. A happy is a life built through discipline, trials and errors and an ongoing competition with ourselves. You can get the life you want without waiting on that lottery win. Build yourself up.

Does Fear Really Keep Us Safe?

Photo by Marina Vitale

We rely on our instincts without processing most of the times that we are doing so. This may be when crossing the street, choosing to avoid people or phone someone on our way home because we are feeling unsafe. There are occasions when we are getting mixed signals and despite everything being in place, anxiety creeps in and takes over.

In the animal kingdom, when predators smell fear they are more enticed to chase up their pray. What makes us think that humans are not the same? Showing confidence in our bodies not only gives us a sense of security, but it gives us power over people who are looking to take advantage of the vulnerable.

Fear works to a certain degree, when the reactions it generates do work in our favor, in the moment. But when we are projecting over the future and we choose fear over the light we can build ourselves towards, we are letting ourselves down. It may sometimes depend on a sharper walk, therapy sessions, martial arts or meditation. Whatever it is, taking action means taking control.

If MOnday Still Isn’t Your Friend, It’s Time to Change That

Photo by Daniel Fazio

Mondays might have changed for some people, but the only thing that changed for me is the added stress.

For those of us who can take time off during these times willingly or imposed, this is a great opportunity to reassess where we stand and envision a life where Mondays are a reason for joy rather than despair. And instead of waiting for this dark cloud to go away and life to resume as normal, start by building yourself up.

Build an evening and morning ritual that will get you excited about the day ahead. Practice gratitude, meditate to find inner calm and put positive thoughts into the universe. Having a great day is more likely to happen if that’s the intention for the day. Let’s neutralize the negativity around Mondays and give our appreciation to time.

Breathe In and Take Control Over Your Actions

Photo by Nine Köpfer

We pride ourselves with our ability to think, but when it comes to pressure and perceived threats we are not always making conscious decisions. From ‘I can’t find my keys before going to work’ to fear of public speaking, deadlines or our views being challenged – everything takes a certain level of awareness. Panic leaves little room to clear thinking.

Long-term practices such as meditation or floatation tanks deal with the backlog of accumulated stress, but what can we do in the moment? It’s as easy as breathing, but taking deep breaths isn’t a natural reaction when our heart is racing. This is why it’s good to have prompts either around the place (environmental design) or a person that can keep you accountable and guide you.

It takes strength to acknowledge the weakness of when our prefrontal cortex takes over. Once we accept the reality of the situation, we can move through regulating our body, telling it to obey us and then plan according to what the reality is, rather than what it looks like.