Stress Management Techniques

I stumbled upon these exercises by complete accident. Back in 2004, I was trying to improve my breathing. To do so, I had to give my complete attention to my breath, or I would go right back to my old pattern. When I started, I could only do it for a few minutes at a time. After doing breathing focus for around a month, I started to notice that I was becoming more and more relaxed. Situations that would cause stress in the past now were just part of life and did not cause problems. With this new sense of relaxation, I became happier. I looked into this, and I found that similar exercises have been practiced for over 5,000 years.

These simple exercises can help us learn to let the mind take a rest. Many of the exercises revolve around learning to focus, becoming aware of when our focus has wandered off, and returning our focus back to the object. When I started focusing on my breathing, what surprised me was how hard it was to keep my attention focused on the breath. One minute I would be on the breath, and then I would find my attention on something else. Once this happened, my breathing went right back to the old pattern. Over time my focus became stronger, and this is when I started to relax and become happier. Focus helps us let go of our wandering mind and come back to the present. When we strengthen our focus and learn to let go of stress, relaxation and happiness can grow strong.

In the beginning, give all the exercises a try. Start out practicing one at a time for a minute or two. Try to do the exercises several times throughout the day. Over time, pick two or three that feel easy. Develop these until they work for you and become part of your everyday life. Gradually add more exercises. If they are hard to do, give them a break. After some time, go back and try the difficult ones again to see if they have become more comfortable. Do some every day and, before you know it, you will have less stress and more happiness.

All of the exercises complement each other, and there is no right or wrong way to do them. You do not need to do them exactly as they are written. Just do your best. If you are working on focus and awareness, you are doing them right. Always check with your doctor before beginning any new program.