Too much stress can have terrible consequences on both your mental and physical health, but what we don’t often realize is that many of the things we stress about don’t deserve all that anguish. Instead of letting those things drive you crazy, sometimes it’s better to just let go of the stress. Here are three practices from Leo Babauta (founder of Zen Habits) for letting go when you’re experiencing a moment of stress. The first practice is to drop into your body and notice how the stress feels, physically. Be present with the feeling — it’s not a problem to have stress in your body, it’s just a physical feeling. You can observe the physical sensation, be with it, and slowly let it go. This can be your whole practice, and it only has to take a few moments. The second practice is to notice your narrative about the situation that is causing stress. You probably have an ideal that is guiding that narrative, something like “they shouldn’t be acting like that.” Notice that the ideal and the narrative are causing the effect of stress and anxiety. Then realize that this narrative is completely fabricated by your mind. You created this ideal and the narrative. That’s nothing to beat yourself up about, but something worth recognizing. The good thing is that if you created it, you can let it go as well. The third practice is to let go and just be. Ask yourself what it would be like to not have the ideal and narrative. See if you can feel what it would be like, just for a moment. In that moment, you are free. You can relax, open your mind beyond your self-concern, and just be. Realize that your problem is not the end of the world, and notice how amazing it is just to be alive right now. You don’t have to be grateful and joyous in every moment, but this freedom of dropping these narratives and simply being at peace … it’s always available.
This article was originally published on April 23, 2019