Being Mindful in Stressful Situations

Being Mindful in Stressful Situations

Mindfulness is a simple form of meditation that involves paying attention to the present moment and accepting it as it is, without judgment. And unlike the distinct yoga and meditation poses that are easy to identify just by looking at them, mindfulness is something that occurs entirely on an inner level, where only the practicing individual can know deep inside whether they're being mindful or not.

Anyone can practice mindfulness for a few minutes a day while performing mundane tasks like showering or washing the dishes. But being mindful when stressful problems and situations arise is often much more difficult.

Despite the difficulty, if you can learn to be mindful through arguments, emergencies, and experiences that trigger panic in you and other people around you, you’ll be able to tap into that calmer state of mind that's needed to see through the chaos and choose to react in the best manner. Nobody likes to think about or expect awful and stressful situations to happen to them, but they do happen.

Here’s what you can do when you’re faced with a challenge that immediately triggers emotional distress.

Just Notice

If someone collapsed right in front of you in a public place, or if you got unexpectedly laid off from your job, or if you found out that your partner was being unfaithful, chances are you’d instantly be swept up in emotion. You might feel fear, sadness, anxiety, shame, guilt, hurt, embarrassment, anger, frustration, or any other negative emotions.

The first thing you need to do is just notice what’s going on inside of you. As you expand your awareness, you’ll get to a state where you can actually feel these emotions happening to you rather than becoming you. This is exactly what mindfulness is.

Don’t Control

When we’re faced with tough challenges, we naturally suppress and hide our emotions in an effort to appear strong and capable of handling the situation. But mindfulness is not about suppressing emotions — it’s about maintaining awareness of them while letting them flow through your mind and body.

Increasing your awareness of your emotions rather than suppressing them is often a better strategy for avoiding emotional outbursts that occur from reacting on impulse. Mindful people who appear to remain calm even in some of the most stressful situations aren’t suppressing their emotions — they’re simply letting them flow and feeling into them while maintaining a state of awareness that naturally keeps their present state of being in a peaceful place.

Remember to Breathe

By taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, you’ll be able to slow down your heart rate and ward off any signs of worsening anxiety. Increased awareness is also a natural side effects of deep breathing, so you’ll find it easier to notice your emotions flow through you as you remember to breathe.

If you can step away from the stressful situation for a moment, then take the opportunity to do that so you can breathe deeply and practice mindfulness in silence. Even when it’s all said and done, lingering negative emotions can help be released by continuing your mindful deep breathing practice long after the situation has unfolded.

Mindfulness helps us become aware of the fact that everything is going to be okay, despite what our minds might be telling us. While we can’t control the situations we must face in life, we can at least change our perceptions.