(Photo above by Gemma Chua Tran / Unsplash)
Here are four expert tips that’ll help you bounce back.
Q: Lately, I feel like I’m not doing a great job taking care of myself. What can I do to feel healthier and less stressed?
A: There’s lots to be stressed about: relationships, money or the current state of the world, to name a few reasons. But, Buddhism teaches you how to use negative things like stress for good. Stress can spark your inner strength and courage, allowing you to overcome whatever happens to be weighing you down.
While there are many ways to take care of yourself and stay healthy, the Buddhist teacher Daisaku Ikeda says that “true health is found in a positive attitude that refuses to be defeated by anything” (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, Part 2, p. 105).
Wondering how that’s possible?
Read these tips from Daisaku Ikeda to learn how to access your inner grit during stressful times.
SGI Nichiren Buddhists start their day by chanting and reciting two excerpts from the Lotus Sutra. This daily practice (called gongyo) is the foundation for a healthy life, as well as a source of mental and physical renewal. The way you position your body during gongyo is also very important. Taking a strong, comfortable stance and firmly pressing your palms together can reinforce your determination.
Make sleep a priority.
Life is way less manageable when you’re chronically overtired. As Ikeda puts it: “Not getting enough sleep is like leaving a car’s engine constantly running. Eventually, it will malfunction or break down” (WCHP-2, 240). So, don’t skimp on sleep. Figure out how much you need to feel your best and be consistent with clocking those hours every night.
Encourage yourself by encouraging others.
Stress can be paralyzing. But, Daisaku Ikeda says that “if we remain still, we will be overwhelmed by [stress’s] pressure, which will destroy us both physically and mentally.” His solution? “Stepping forward and taking action” (WCHP-2, 242). By action, he means identifying simple acts you can do each day to make someone else’s life better. It might be as small as sending a “thank you” note or scheduling a phone date with a friend. In the words of Buddhist reformer Nichiren Daishonin: “If one lights a fire for others, one will brighten one’s own way” (“On the Three Virtues of Food,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 1060).
During stressful times, you can quickly find yourself skipping meals or grabbing what’s most convenient. However, Ikeda emphasizes the importance of being intentional about what you put in your body: “You mustn’t put yourselves at risk. Take responsibility for looking after your own health” (WCHP-2, 243). Your diet is directly linked to your susceptibility for certain illnesses. Do what you can to reduce this risk by eating healthy.
Stress isn’t going anywhere, but you have the power to overcome it through your Buddhist practice! You are worthy of self-care and far more resilient than you think.