There are many ways to help us cope with stressful situations although not all will suit everyone. Yoga, meditation and prayer are shown to have a positive effect on our emotions and controlled breathing can help relax the body. Breathing slowly and deeply from the bottom of our lungs causes the heart to slow down and is a useful exercise whenever you notice sensations of stress, anxiety, fear or even anger.
Paying more attention to the present moment, to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you, can improve your mental wellbeing. An increased awareness of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better.
How to be more mindful:
Notice the everyday Even as we go about our daily lives notice the sensations of things, the food we eat, the air moving past the body as we walk. This might all sound very small, but it has huge power to interrupt the 'autopilot' mode we often engage in day to day, and to give us new perspectives on life.
Keep it regular It can be helpful to pick a regular time during which you decide to be aware of the sensations created by the world around you.
Try something new Trying new things can also help you notice the world in a different way.
Watch your thoughts When we stop what we’re doing lots of thoughts and worries can crowd in. Mindfulness isn't about making these thoughts go away, but rather about noting them without getting carried away by them.
Name thoughts and feelings To develop an awareness of thoughts and feelings it can be helpful to silently name them.
Fight Your Fears Whatever it is that scares you, here are some ways to help you cope with your day-to-day fears and anxieties.
Take time out It's impossible to think clearly when you're flooded with fear or anxiety. The first thing to do is take time out so you can physically calm down. Distract yourself from the worry for 15 minutes by a short walk or making a cup of tea.
Don't try to be perfect Life is full of stresses, yet many of us feel that our lives must be perfect. Bad days and setbacks will always happen, and it's important to remember that life is messy.
Visualise a happy place Take a moment to close your eyes and imagine a place of safety and calm. Let the positive feelings soothe you until you feel more relaxed.
Go back to basics Lots of people turn to alcohol or drugs to self-treat anxiety, but this will only make matters worse. Simple, everyday things like a good night's sleep, a wholesome meal and a walk are often the best cures.
Examine the evidence Step back and try to be objective. Are our concerns rational, undisputed and with evidence to support their truth or are they driven and reinforced by emotion, arguable and from the heart rather than the head?
Anger is a normal, healthy emotion. But it can be a problem if you find it difficult to keep it under control and undue stress can result in aggression. Everyone has a physical reaction to anger, be aware of what your body is telling you, and take steps to calm yourself down.
Recognise your anger signs Usually your heart beats faster and you breathe more quickly but there might also be other signs, such as tension in your shoulders or clenching your fists. If you notice them get out of the situation if you have a history of losing control.
Count to 10 Counting to 10 gives you time to cool down so you can think more clearly and overcome the impulse to lash out.
Breathe slowly Breathe out for longer than you breathe in, and relax as you breathe out. You automatically breathe in more than out when you're feeling angry, and the trick is to breathe out more than in which will calm you down effectively enabling you to think more clearly.
Managing anger in the long term Once you can recognise that you're getting angry and can calm yourself down, you can start looking at ways to control your anger more generally.
For more information and guidance, please visit ISWAN’s website and read the following articles: ISWAN Launches Second Good Mental Health Guide ISWAN – Good Mental Health Guide for Seafarers ISWAN – Relaxation Techniques at Sea