Audio Version (07:52)
Over the festive period, I did an article describing two simple-to-use tools to help regulate your nervous system when you feel stressed or anxious.
Those techniques are particularly useful to bring your nervous system back to baseline after you’ve been triggered, making you feel instantly calmer and more in control.
In the extended video version of that article, I promised further simple strategies to help overcome stress and anxiety to build your longer-term mental toughness, which is what I’m covering today.
Meditation, Self-Hypnosis, NSDR and Journaling
Meditation, self-hypnosis, NSDR (non-sleep deep rest) and daily journaling practices are powerful tools for managing stress and anxiety, especially long-term.
At their core, these techniques focus on being present in the moment, cultivating awareness, and training the mind to observe thoughts and feelings without judgment. There are so many clinical studies on the benefits of these practices that it’s tough to ignore.
I use all of these techniques frequently, but depending on how I’m feeling and the result I want.
I find that many people are sceptical of self-hypnosis for some reason. It blows my mind how much misinformation there is out there about hypnosis in general, but I won’t go into that here. However, I do know that self-hypnosis has had a massively positive impact on my well-being since I started listening to it c20 years ago.
Self-hypnosis is incredibly easy. You simply find a recording(s) you like, get comfortable in a room where you won’t be interrupted, lie down (if possible), put your headphones on, and simply relax and listen. That’s it! If you fall asleep, that’s fine. It still goes to your subconscious (which is where the change happens).
I highly recommend any of the recordings by Paul McKenna, and another favourite is Andrew Johnson. Andrew has lots of Apps available that you can download on topics such as managing stress, healing, getting fit, building confidence, not panicking, and beating procrastination, to name but a few.
2. NSDR (Non-Sleep Deep Rest)
NSDR (non-sleep deep rest) and Yoga Nidra (not to be confused with physical yoga) are specific guided meditations clinically proven to reduce stress and aid relaxation in as little as 10 minutes.
So, if you’re not getting restful night-time sleep, topping up during the day with just 10 minutes of NSDR can make a massive difference to your physical health and cognitive functioning (which declines significantly if you aren’t getting enough quality sleep).
To do NSDR, again, you sit or lie somewhere safe where you won’t be interrupted, put your headphones on, relax, and follow the instructions. If you fall asleep, as with self-hypnosis, that’s fine too!
Two of my favourites are:
There are many different ways to meditate, and I know it can be challenging for some. Especially if, like me, you have an overactive mind.
However, here are a couple of top tips for starting a meditation practice that have helped me:
Start small – just 2-5 minutes a day.
When your mind wanders (which it will), just gently guide it back to your breathing and keep bringing it back no matter how many goes it takes.
Unfortunately, many people think they’re rubbish at meditating because their mind keeps wandering. But the whole point of meditation is to guide it back when it does!
You haven’t failed by doing this; on the contrary, every time you bring your awareness back to your breath, you’re doing it right!
In the extended YouTube version, I go into meditation, including different styles and Apps, in more detail.
4. Journaling/Emotional Release Writing
So, how does it work? Well, we can’t process difficult things when they’re stuck in our heads. It’s impossible, so talking to someone about our problems or (if that option isn’t available) writing them down is clinically proven to have massive beneficial effects.
There are different types of journaling, which, again, I go into in more detail in the extended YouTube version of this article. But here, I’m discussing Emotional Release Writing.
This is a particularly powerful form of journaling.
To do it, simply set aside time to write freely about your emotions without censoring or judging your thoughts. You can pick a particular issue concerning you (past, present or future) or write more broadly about how you’re feeling and what’s working/not working in your life.
This process can provide clarity, release pent-up feelings, and offer insights into managing stress triggers.
As you do this exercise, don’t try to monitor your spelling, grammar, or sentence structure – just get it out. No one else will read it (it’s for your eyes only), so it doesn’t have to be perfect.
You don’t have to keep it, either. In fact, if you’re processing particularly difficult events, past or present, the recommendation is to NOT go back and reread what you’ve written, as you’ll likely re-traumatise yourself. However, some people find it incredibly empowering to simply delete, burn or shred it afterwards!
Stress and anxiety are inevitable parts of life, but they don’t have to control it.
By integrating these practical tools, plus the ones I mentioned in the previous article, into your daily routine, you can effectively manage these emotions and build resilience.
Remember, consistency is vital—start small, experiment with different techniques, and find what works best for you.
It’s important to point out that you can’t do these techniques once or twice and expect to see a massive difference. It’s gym for your brain. You don’t expect to go to the gym once, and you’re fit for the rest of your life. Self-hypnosis, mediation and journaling are the same. It’s a cumulative effect.
No matter what’s happening in your life right now, building some or all of these techniques, plus the ones from the previous article/video, into your daily or weekly routine will help build and maintain long-term resilience.
Combined, they will help you manage your nervous system to feel calmer and more in control of your life.
Again, you can watch the extended version of this article on YouTube. If you head over there, please like, comment, subscribe, and hit that notification bell so you don’t miss a thing.
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