Believe it or not, I am not the essence of fitness. Far from it really. But as I begin a new chapter of my life it’s something that I have to step into. Doing so brought an unexpected thought on how to deal with the storms of life.
There I was giving it everything I had. The sweat was pouring from every inch of my body. Muscles hurt that I didn’t even know I had. There were only three sets left, but all I could think of was how badly I was hurting.
You see, recently I decided that it was a good idea to subscribe to Daily Burn. A fitness app that has at home workout routines for only $10 a month. (Insert infomercial here.) As a thirty-two-year-old, I knew that it was something I needed to do.
So that’s how I found myself sweating to death in the middle of my living room. Muscles cramping. Head pounding. And a great desire to just be done.
As I pushed through set number five and finally was able to rest the trainer stopped us and said something that really struck me. He said,
“Deep breath in. Now slowly let it out. Right now you are in the eye of the storm. It’s crazy and you are hurting, I know. But that’s why I’m here. To help you learn how to stay calm in the midst of the storm. Take another deep breath. Let it out. Let your breath connect your mind and your body. Focus. Ok, let’s go.”
As I followed his instructions I found that it actually worked. With each breath, I was able to slow my breathing, as well as my thinking. I stopped focusing on how bad I hurt and started being able to calm myself down. It was amazing.
Before I knew what had happened we were on to the next set and I had more energy then I did in the previous set. I couldn’t believe it.
As I cooled down from the workout I couldn’t seem to shake what the trainer had said. It made me think about my life and how often I am overwhelmed by what is around me. It steals my focus and sucks me in. I do my best to keep fighting, but often I am overcome.
It was in that moment I remembered a concept my counselor told me about. Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is defined as, a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
The past few months I had been experimenting with this concept. When life seemed to overwhelm me I simply stop and focus on the present moment. It wasn’t until I was I found myself gasping for air after my workout that I realized how well mindfulness worked.
DISCLAIMER: If you are anything like me you’re probably thinking that this concept is a little “weird” or “new age” like. If so, I totally get it. Me too. But go with me here.
Let’s talk about 4 ways I have used mindfulness to help me stand strong through the storms of life.
Use Your Senses
A simple way to focus yourself is by walking through your five senses. Close your eyes and begin to describe what you hear around you. Then what you smell. What do you feel? Do you taste anything? Then open your eyes and begin to focus on what you see. In doing so you’ll be amazed at how this calms your mind and allows you to focus. Sometimes being mindful just takes us stopping and paying attention.
This one was a little weird for me at first, but I gotta say it has really helped me. I have learned that the afternoon is the worst part of the day for me when it comes to my thinking. I’m easily overwhelmed. So I set an alarm for 3:30 every day and spend 10 minutes in meditation. I use a great podcast called Meditation Oasis to guide me through. Once I’m down I love how calm and focused I am. You should try it.
As the story above clearly indicates, I’m not a fitness guru. But I have found that it helps me when I feel overwhelmed in any way. There are countless studies that speak to this truth. But it wasn’t until this past year that I have found it to be true for myself. No matter how stressed I am walking into the workout, I always feel better and more present after.
As a person of faith, this one is kind of a no-brainer. But how often have I spent days stewing over the problems I’m facing and never once talk to God about them? Ever been there? One idea I’m trying is simply telling God what it is I’m facing and how I feel about it. No fluff. No edits. Just real and raw. In doing this I’ve learned that God can handle my emotions and often he helps me through them.
It doesn’t matter where you find yourself today. The storms of life will come. When they do they can knock you over and spin you in ways you didn’t even know were possible. When that happens try one of these simple ways to be more mindful. I think you’ll be surprised how much it helps.
Question: What ways have you found helps relieve stress in the midst of the storms of life? Share them bellow in the comment section.