Mindfulness: Inner Harmony and Stress

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Girl meditating outside on grass

What is inner harmony?

Inner harmony is a peaceful feeling where there is a connection and a sense of belonging between our inner life and the outer world. When the outer world does not conform to our expectations and desires, we can become anxious, resentful, jealous, angry, and stressed. For those of us used to swallowing our anger and drowning our sorrows, that list of emotions reads like a recipe for ‘give me food, now’. Feeling stressed is a common trigger for overeating and drinking. Yet stress can be as much to do with your perception of what is happening than with what is actually going on, which means you often have it in your power to deal with it differently.

Over the centuries ‘stress’ has evolved from the word ‘distress’ and is now too well known and too little understood. The downside of stress is that it can have a powerful ability to destroy life’s achievements, life’s hopes and goals. We have come to view stress as a negative experience; however, psychologists also distinguish between stress that is harmful (distress) and stress that is positive (eustress). Indeed, when facing a challenging situation some become distressed whilst someone else may become eustressed. Eustress can motivate us to create solutions, create energy. When you have been under pressure in the past you might have turned to food as a distraction. By looking at your thoughts about the situation, you can learn to manage your stress levels, and reduce stress-linked cravings, which can help keep your weight management on track.

De-stress – not distress

Have a go at using a rating scale:

  • Think back to one of those pressurised situations and rate on a scale of one to ten how stressed you believe you were. One if super chilled to ten if close to breaking point.
  • Now imagine the situation and how someone who was really at a highly stressed ten would be behaving and feeling- take it to the extreme!
  • Momentarily imagine all the worst possible scenarios that might happen if they became overwhelmed. Question if that was likely to be true, check out any crooked thinking, any evidence for that worst possible scenario all becoming reality.
  • Now come up with a more balanced thought about how the situation could be managed more effectively. See potential solutions. Switch to a different script, this time come up with more ideas for how you could manage the situation.
  • Press the pause button, breath a few deep breaths.
  • Now rate your new stress level, again one to ten. The results might surprise you.
  • Escape – sometimes, simply by removing yourself from the stressful situation you deflate it. Having a laugh, taking a five-minute power nap or getting active (even if just walking round the room) are great ways to do this. Tensing then relaxing all your large muscles in turn can help; breathe in as you tense, exhale as you relax.
  • Challenge the situation – express your ideas in an open direct and honest manner
  • Stand up for your rights, while respecting the rights of others
  • Take responsibility for your actions and yourself, without judging or blaming others
  • Find a compromise where conflict exists
  • Take a deep breath – sit quietly, breathing deeply in and out through your nose for a few minutes. Use this ‘breathing space’ to focus on your goals or simply daydream, then snap your mind back into current focus in one deep breath.
  • Get some support – from family, friends, colleagues, LighterLife. Bottling it up (or swallowing it down with too much food) is not the answer: talking about it is, and you can do this with your LighterLife Mentor. They understand your goals, your experiences, your triggers, and with their support you’re more likely to succeed in dealing with your stresses and achieving your weight management goals.

Discover more about our approach to mindfulness and our product range at www.lighterlife.com/lighterlife-fast/