4 Ways to Lean into Discomfort

In our fast-paced world, we often shut ourselves off from dealing with stress. Over time, this can compound in our lives and lead to anxiety and depression, as well as physical disease. I often tell my students to lean into their discomfort and work with it before it causes too much of an imbalance in their lives. It’s really all about being comfortable with being uncomfortable. An easy concept I refer to is “ You have to feel it in order to heal it. “ By working with it instead of avoiding it, we can reduce stress and maintain more balance. Here are 4 steps on how to lean into discomfort:

Step 1 – Identify your biggest stress triggers

What stresses you out? Work? Family? A relationship? Identifying your stress triggers is an important first step in managing your stress. Write them down in a stress journal each day while observing your physical reaction. You may notice physical symptoms such as a tight jaw, grinding your teeth, a knot in your stomach, irritability, heart palpitations or feeling like it’s hard to breathe. What is your emotional reaction? You may notice emotional symptoms such as anxiety, sadness, or anger.  Overall, you could be experiencing poor sleep, fatigue, low blood sugar, a weakened immune system, or difficulty concentrating. Discomfort can show up in many, many ways.

Step 2 – Use a mantra meditation 

It may be impossible to remove stress triggers from your life, but you can help deal with them in a positive way that helps you feel more empowered and less overwhelmed.  Try a short mantra meditation such as Peace Begins with Me, created by Gabrielle Bernstein. Here’s how it works:

Use the mantra, “Peace begins with me,” while you use the mudras of placing your thumb toward your pointer finger, your thumb toward your middle finger, your thumb toward your ring finger, and finally your thumb toward your pinky finger.

With each word, place your thumb against the respective finger.

  • When you touch your index finger, breathe deeply and say: PEACE.
  • When you touch your middle finger, breathe deeply and say: BEGINS.
  • When you touch your ring finger, breathe deeply and say: WITH.
  • When you touch your pinky finger, breathe deeply and say: ME.

Repeat this five times or more and feel your body release tension and your mind let go of chatter.

Step 3 – Move your body

Get out in nature, hit the gym, or dance to a favorite song. Moving your body is important to combat stress, plus it boosts your confidence and improves your mood. Exercise helps to increase the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. It also helps improve your ability to sleep , which in turn reduces stress. Find what form of exercise works best for you…and JUST DO IT!

Step 4 – Sit in silence

When we sit quietly, our bodies release stress. If we spend a few minutes everyday in meditation it can help restore calm and inner peace. Focusing your attention on your breathing pulls your attention from your monkey mind and obsessive thoughts and can give you that sense of calm, peace, and balance benefiting your emotional wellbeing and overall health. Set a timer for 5 minutes and notice your breath without trying to manipulate or force it.  As your breathing  slows down, your thoughts will also slow down, causing your stress to melt away.

If you are avoiding your discomfort, I encourage you to spend a few minutes exploring it without judgment.  Allow yourself to breathe deeply and focus only on your breath. Try this for a few weeks and watch as your life become more balanced and less chaotic.