Stress is toxic to our health, contributing to heart disease, depression, and many other physical and mental ailments. Research shows that mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool to help reduce anxiety, depression, and stress! The stress-reducing power of mindfulness is amplified when we combine it with self-compassion.
Years ago I took a class on Mindful Self-Compassion and found it transformative. I learned skills to soothe myself when times turn tough. My depression vanished as I learned how to manage my issues with anger in a new way.
Self-compassion is the basis for my SNAP method. This is a simple way to shift out of stress and into a more calm and composed state. Try it any time you are feeling stress, tension, and worry by following these steps:
S: Soothing Touch — When you feel stress, where does it show up in your body? Place your hands over that area. It might be your chest, belly, hugging your upper arms, or cradling your face. Try different locations and see which feels most soothing. This supportive touch will allow oxytocin and endorphins to help calm your nervous system.
N: Name the Emotion — Name what you are feeling in the moment. Is it worry? Sadness? Anger? Loneliness? Naming what you feel helps calm the stress response and gives you time to locate it in your body and soften around it.
A: Act — It’s time to use a tool to help yourself feel better. Asking the ultimate Mindful Self-Compassion question — “What do I need right now?” — is the best place to start. Then do what can reasonably be done with what you’ve got in the moment. For example:
While driving: Try controlling your breathing, making your exhale longer than your inhale to lower your blood pressure and slow your heart rate. I often put one hand on the wheel and the other hand on my heart.
When toddler tantrums or teen drama erupt: Try dropping your attention to the soles of your feet as you control your breathing to slow the whole show down.
When teen or adult family drama makes you want to flee: Stay focused on your body and your breathing. Breathe in compassion for yourself because it’s so difficult, and breathe out compassion for them because they are suffering (even if their behavior might be disturbing). Doing this can help to calm your nervous system.
At work: Depending on your work situation, you may have more options for relief in the moment if you can close the door (even if it’s in the bathroom stall) to give yourself a few minutes for quiet reflection. Ground yourself by touching a polished stone you keep on your desk, or through the soles of your feet. Take a break at the water cooler and exhale longer than you inhale for a few rounds of breathing.
P: Praise — Thank your practice for helping you manage the stress! Thank yourself for showing up day after day, trying to do your best. Thank the universe, your teachers, or your spirit of choice for giving you the strength and courage to keep on keeping on.
I recommend using SNAP to manage difficult emotions and snap out of it. Snapping your fingers will help you remember the acronym, and what it represents.
Join Panache Desai each weekday morning for support in reconnecting to the wellspring of calm and peace that lives within you and that has the power to counterbalance all of the fear, panic, and uncertainty that currently engulfs the world.
Designed To Move You From Survival and Fear to Safety and Peace. Available Monday - Friday. Meditation begins at 9 AM. Access early to hear Panache's monologue - around 8:30 AM.