“I’m so stressed out,” are words many of us are speaking far too often these days. This is why so many people are combatting stress with mindfulness practices.
In the current world of always doing and going – even if you’re not leaving your home much – it’s easy to get pulled into a world of constant busyness. And we start to believe that we can beat the stress by outrunning it.
That doesn’t work though. It just piles on more stress. And then you’re stuck in a vicious cycle.
The Impact of Stress
When you’re in a stressed state, your body is kicking out adrenaline that increases your heart rate, tenses your muscles, elevates your respiration, and alters your blood flow. Stress was created as an evolutionary necessity to escape true danger. So it’s needful.
However, the body isn’t meant to be in this state permanently. And the longer it is, the more restless and troubled the mind becomes. Soon enough, you’re anxious, irritable, and unable to focus. Your thoughts are in what seems an inescapable cycle.
If you continue to exist in a heightened stress state, it can lead to insomnia, reduced pain tolerance, and even anger issues. So gaining the know-how to shift out of this aroused state to a relaxed state is essential for your well-being.
Practicing mindfulness is one of the simplest and most effective ways to make this shift.
Combatting Stress With Mindfulness
In a nutshell, mindfulness is a state of intentional focus on the present moment from a place of no judgment. You’ll find mindfulness techniques are often taught in yoga and meditation, or are offered by therapists, life coaches, or spiritual healers.
They are practices that ask you to become completely aware of the present moment by noticing sights, sounds, smells, or physical sensations that often go ignored. Such focus requires a move away from past or future thinking.
In the present moment, you work toward acceptance rather than resistance. You learn to accept whatever you’re thinking or feeling without placing any judgment or criticism about such thoughts and feelings.
Over time and through practice, you begin to recognize that negative or uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and sensations are merely temporary and will not last forever. Nor do they constitute your being.
As you get deeper into mindfulness practices, you can adopt an attitude of curiosity and acceptance. This practice of having an openness for whatever is next – and understanding that you can handle it – leads to a decrease in ruminating thoughts and avoidance strategies that underlie stress and anxiety.
So where can you begin?
Start With a STOP
One of the easiest ways to begin to practice mindfulness is with the acronym STOP.
The S stands for, “Slow down.”
The T is the beginning of “Take a breath.”
The O reminds you to “Observe” what you’re feeling and thinking and gives you the opportunity to consider all of the possibilities of your situation.
And the P allows you to Proceed, keeping all of the possibilities in mind.
Whenever a crisis arises, pause and STOP. Try to approach this simple practice with an attitude of kindness, curiosity, and a willingness to accept your thoughts and feelings as they are. This simple practice can give you an openness to new possibilities.
Deepening With Other Mindfulness Techniques
The STOP technique is a great place to start. But there are myriad other mindfulness practices you can incorporate. Most of them can be performed just about anywhere and at any time.
For example, there is the practice of mindful breathing. This is nothing more than just shifting your focus and awareness to the movement of the breath as you inhale and exhale. As you do so, you can begin to stand outside yourself and watch your thoughts. You’re not trying to change your breath or thoughts in any way. Just be aware.
Another simple practice is the body scan. You can do this while sitting in a chair at work, or lying in bed at the beginning or end of the day. Starting at the crown of your head, slowly scan all the way down the body – noticing any areas of tension or tightness along the way. Try not to judge or react to them. Simply notice them.
Even eating can become an opportunity to practice mindfulness. By consuming your food slowly and deliberately and paying attention to the sensations you experience when chewing, tasting, and swallowing, your building mindfulness.
Finally, you can practice mindfulness through movement such as walking and dancing. One of the most familiar physical practices that focuses on mindfulness is yoga. It is a practice of incorporating breath and meditation while focusing on the physical sensations as you enter and hold each pose.
Proven Benefits of Mindfulness
The latest research on mindfulness studies shows that it’s beneficial to physical and mental health. Studies show that mindfulness training may reduce anxiety and depression. It can also lead to lowering stress responses, sharpen memory, and improve mental performance.
Mindfulness practices also have health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, strengthening the immune system, and improving pain management.
Furthermore, because mindfulness training and practices are so easy to incorporate into your daily routine, it tends to have long-lasting benefits.
Start Combatting Stress With Mindfulness Practices
While combating stress with mindfulness practices is simple, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Especially when you’re first beginning.
So if you’d like to incorporate some of these amazingly beneficial practices into your life, contact us. We can help you begin mindful practices such as yoga, meditation, and life coaching.
And we’ll bring them right to your place of business, organization, or school for more stress-free living.