No two people see the world in the same way and we can’t all deal with the pressures of life with ease. Find out what you can do if it’s all getting too much and how a simple shift in perspective could change your life
It’s easy for life to get on top of you. We’ve all felt stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted at various times and found it hard to take a step back, breathe and find a sense of calm.
Everyone deals with the pressures of life in different ways, and some are more able to cope than others. But how much does the way you think and process the world around you affect your emotional wellbeing?
A different way of thinking
“I think the first thing you need to do is accept that life is what it is and we can’t change the world,” explains Sona Bahri, director of meditation and self-development centre Inner Space Abu Dhabi.
“Our response to life is the only thing that can be changed easily; while we can’t change the world on the outside, we can change what goes on inside us.”
As individuals we’re largely powerless to change the way the world works. Instead, we should shift our focus toward the things we can change: ourselves.
Retraining our brain to better understand and process the world around us and deal with the pressures and stresses that are commonplace in modern life is something anyone can do, but it takes effort.
“The mind should be under your control, just like your arm or your leg are under your control and you know how to work with it,” adds Sona.
“Half of the time the mind is controlling you rather than you controlling your mind. That’s the problem that most human beings are facing at the moment.
“In the same way that you’ve got to look out for the wellbeing of your body, you have to do the same for your mind, assessing what you allow into your mind and how you consume it.
“It’s all about learning the mechanisms of the mind. If you use your mind in the right way, it will be a healthy mind; if you use your mind in the wrong way, you’ll get the return of that.“
It’s often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The same principle applies to our emotions: if you don’t change the way you think and process the world around you, then you can’t expect to feel differently.
So how can we take small actions in our everyday lives to take back control over
“If you find yourself getting angry or upset, find a place to sit alone, disengage and ask yourself the question: ‘What am I feeling?’ Then you can begin to understand your feelings instead of denying them and telling yourself that you’re not angry or stressed.
“Focussing on your breathing is a good way of clearing the mind or try counting backwards to help take a pause and seek the inner peace hidden within.
“Another good way to make change is to talk to someone you trust instead of bottling all your feelings up inside month after month.
“Spend some time with someone you trust, then you can express your feelings. The person won’t necessarily agree with everything you feel and say, but it’s nice to have a neutral voice around and vocalise issues with another person.”
The truth is that everyone is different, so changing the way you think will be easier for some individuals than others.
How many times have you heard the ‘Is the glass half empty or half full?’ question and categorised yourself as an optimist or a pessimist? Some people are naturally more positive in their approach to life while others could learn to adopt a more positive outlook, to the benefit of their general wellbeing.
“Being more aware and embracing positivity can completely change your life, your entire way of relating to the world,” explains Sona.
“You have the ability to choose a different response and thought pattern and therefore use your mind to give you a completely different reaction than what you may have had otherwise.
“Anyone can learn to think more positively and, in a way, that’s more beneficial for the self and for others.
“It’s a matter of personal responsibility. Don’t wait for someone to drag you along
to a meditation or a mindfulness class, for example.
“If you need a little bit more positivity and happiness in your life then take the plunge. Try a new approach session and see what it can do for you.”
Making the change
It can be easy to carry on stressed, exhausted and overworked without making a change or trying to improve your situation. We keep going on with the same routines, carrying out the same tasks, too scared to do something different.
For Sasha Quince, founder of Let’s Go Yoga, it took a life-changing event to inspire her to improve her quality of life, and to take steps in a new direction to help others who weren’t living their best life.
“In 2009 I was working a full-time job, living both personally and professionally in a self-absorbed bubble on autopilot, moving from one thing to another and crossing things off the to-do lists,” explains Sasha.
“I was not living in a present state of mind aware of my surroundings. I had back pain, was eating unhealthily and was not mentally feeling clear.
“Then, one morning in March 2009 while at my desk, my self-absorbed bubble popped when I received the heart-breaking news of the loss of my sister.
“This life-changing event and deep loss moved me into new patterns of thinking
“So I took the leap and prepared myself to leave the only job I knew how to do and start my journey into wellness, yoga, meditation and more.”
Determined to lead a happier, healthier life and help others to find the best versions of themselves in order to lead a more meaningful existence, Sasha recovered from her personal loss to change her life and help others to strive for better
Having worked a stressful nine-to-five job where she allowed the work life balance to weigh heavily in the wrong direction, Sasha knows what it’s like to get caught up with life at the office and put yourself in second place.
“It is very easy to get sucked into a whirlwind where you surround your life
with work and this can lead to malaise,” adds Sasha.
“When we don’t set boundaries we tend to layer anxiety, stress and worry in our body and over time our body will shut down or create inflammation, which can easily translate into disease.
“The first step to growth is awareness: just noticing you feel overwhelmed or anxious is the first and most important step towards growth. So if you feel this way, you’re already half way there. Now you just need to make a change.”
Inner Space Abu Dhabi: innerspacecentre.ae
Let’s Go Yoga: letsgoyogame.com
WORDS Colin Armstrong