‘One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the soul, and his enemy as well.’—Bhagavadgita (6.5)

Have you ever been so stressed at work that you felt your mind could explode any moment? Last-minute deadlines, rushing from one meeting to another, constant travel and a host of other stressors could take a heavy toll on our physical and mental health. Apart from that, there are worries and challenges with regard to relationships and the home front too. Is there a well-tested and effective method to cope with mental stress?

The four Ps are simple, yet effective. I have tried this out myself and it works wonders.

1) Pause to breathe (pranayama)

Just breathe! Most of us are so caught up with the daily grind that we forget to breathe. Just try this for a moment. Pause, and close your eyes. Relax your muscles and inhale deeply. Then slowly exhale, and observe your breath. Try fifty slow breaths and then open your eyes. You are sure to feel a world of difference. It hardly takes fifteen minutes and if you are too hard-pressed for time, you could try a shorter five-minute break of twenty breaths. This exercise helps you check your mind’s frenzied pace; you will also realize that often you are helplessly dragged by your mind to various thoughts and activities that aren’t really important to you. Pausing to breathe slows you down physically, calms you mentally and rejuvenates you spiritually.

2) Pen down your feelings, thoughts, and goals

Journal writing is a well-recognized self-help tool that has tremendous therapeutic benefits.

I discovered the amazing benefits of journal writing in 2008 after a friend gifted me Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. In it, Goldberg expresses emphatically that writing is more like a spiritual practice; it helps us penetrate various layers of mental clutter and become sane. In a speeding car, the scenery outside appears to whizz by so quickly that you can’t recognize or appreciate the landscape. But if the car is to slow down, you can observe the trees, bushes, buildings and the birds perched on the branches of a tree more clearly. Similarly, our minds rush at a jet-like speed throughout the day. Often people are confused about what they really want in life; writing journals slows the mind down and you can observe, introspect and evaluate more clearly; you can see the minute details of your life because your mind has slowed down. Besides, you might also discover amazing solutions to your own problems in life. Writing helps one experience-rich realization springing forth from the inner depths of the heart and consciousness. I, like many others, discovered newer perspectives to my life and my activities, thanks to journal writing.

To be continued…

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