Here we have the final part of a three-part series on using self-control. Part one covered ways of contented daily living and attitudes that will contribute to the ability to control oneself. The second part gave techniques for using self control when anger threatens to rise up. Here, we will cover letting the “fire that can rage inside of us” dissipate, or stress relief techniques.
We all have stressors in our daily work and lives. Even if you are happy-go-lucky and not prone to anger or the “fire,” your health will still benefit from building stress relief activities into your regular routine. But, if you are like most of us you have things that spark you off and threaten to make you angry. For us, stress relief is paramount to allowing us to keep self control.
CHANNEL ANGER FOR SELF-CONTROL
Some of the in-the-moment self-control techniques include “biting your tongue” and just not getting into it. But we don’t want to bottle up our emotions until one day we explode with anger. We need to channel anger and let it out in healthy, constructive ways. You may have heard of screaming into your pillow, or hitting it. These work for releasing anger and frustration. So do hitting a heavy bag and kiai-ing loudly. Karate is a great way to relieve stress. You can imagine a person or situation that sparks your tinder while you are hitting or kicking a target. You will get a better workout this way too. (Just don’t do this while working with or striking toward a partner when control is a must!)
YOGA IS NO-NONSENSE STRESS RELIEF
Hatha yoga is great stress relief because in it we focus on breathing more deeply than we usually do. You can join yoga, and you can practice breath control outside of yoga classes too. Bring your breath to its comfortable maximum, and repeat 10 times while bringing all your attention to your breath. Do this at least a couple times a day.
I highly recommend guided meditations or visualizations that are designed to relax. These are also practiced in yoga, and can be done easily on your own too. You can find them in books, on Youtube and online. One of my favorites is http://www.learn-to-meditate.com/waves-of-light-meditation.html. Don’t be afraid to explore these on your own. If you don’t like the meditation, or its words don’t resonate with you, skip it and look for another guided relaxation. Prayer and forgiveness work can be effective too.
OTHER PRACTICAL STRESS-RELIEF TECHNIQUES
Regular weekly exercise, whether it’s walking, swimming, or jumping rope, will release tensions. Using positive affirmations can help if you notice your thoughts returning to negativity. If you get stuck in an angry loop despite using all of the above, try writing about the subject and letting your thoughts and feelings out on paper. Then you can save this to read later when you’re more objective, to see what you can learn about yourself. Or tear it up and flush or burn it to let it go.
The fourth and final step is repeat all. 1) Fire Prevention: Grow your daily positive and grateful attitudes. 2) Use Fire Extinguishers: Recognize anger when it tries to rise, and push it down. 3) Let it Dissipate: Practice regular stress relief. 4) Repeat: Do it all again, every week, every day. Practice and you’ll get better at self-control and Dojo Kun #5.
By Jenifer Tull-Gauger