Managing distress

This video discusses the inevitability of experiencing pain in our relationships and introduces strategies to manage it without resorting to negative behaviours. Emphasizing the saying "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional," the video guides viewers through a breathing exercise designed to reduce tension and promote calmness. By practicing this technique daily, individuals can improve their ability to handle stress and move closer to family wellbeing. The video encourages viewers to create a habit of mindful breathing to better manage their emotions and reactions.

A man speaks:

Sometimes life can be distressing. It is normal that we experience pain in our relationships from time to time. We often don't have a lot of control over feeling pain. But we do have an option about whether or not we suffer because of this pain. There is an old saying, this is...pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

The basic idea is to learn how to get through bad situations no matter what is coming at us...without panicking, without overreacting, and without making what is often a bad situation worse by resorting to abusive practices. By learning how to sit with and accept pain and distress, we will be better able to move closer to family wellbeing.

A key strategy when we are distressed is to manage our pain without resorting to abusive behaviour, alcohol and drugs, or other ways of avoidance. I invite you to join me in an activity you can use to count down quickly and get yourself back in control.

Get comfortable in your seats and close your eyes. Straighten your back and find a comfortable balance for your neck and head. Let your shoulders drop down to the lowest comfortable position. Let your hands rest on your knees or fold together lightly. Let your face muscles soften and relax...so your face is free of any particular expression. Feel your whole body soften and relax. Hold this awareness of your whole body for a few breaths.

Now bring your attention to your breath. Notice where in the body you can feel your breath most clearly and strongly. For some people it's the nose, for others the chest. Or maybe you feel the breath most strongly down towards the belly. If you're not sure, start by feeling the subtle sensation in the nose as you breathe in and out. The coolness of the air flowing in and the warmth of the air coming out.

Now see if you can follow the sensations of breathing downwards into the chest. Notice the movement of your ribs and the very slight movement of your shoulders as you breathe.

Now let your attention go lower down towards the centre of your body. You may be able to notice that as your lungs fill with air...there is a downward pressure in your belly. This pressure releases as you breathe out again.

Let yourself take deep, slow breaths, and feel them pushing down in your belly. Then releasing the pressure. Now open your eyes and gently sit up.

This type of breathing that we just tried is the most deeply relaxed state. We all breathe this way when we are asleep. If we can learn to do this consciously while we are awake, we can get control over the tension we carry in our bodies.

When we are uptight, our breathing is blocked by the sensation and it stays up high in our chest. Our belly is locked up tight. It's like when you're panting with fear. When we are settled and calm our breathing goes down much deeper and pushes down into the belly more. We are using our diaphragm rather than our rib muscles to do the work.

Your challenge is to create a habit so that each day you take 5 minutes to practise this way of breathing. You will notice that it will reduce the tension in your body, which will allow you much better access to manage distress.