Mindfulness: 5 Easy Ways to Mindfully Manage Stress
Author: Corinne Bett Date Posted:20 August 2015
Don’t stress! Yes, life is busy, hectic and most of us find our modern lifestyle quite stressful and hard to deal with at times. So how can we manage our stress in a healthy way? We’ve all heard a million times the usual recommendations. Eat well, exercise, spend time with your loved ones, enjoy a hobby, pat a dog or two, get enough sleep, yes these are important but……yaaaaaaaaawn! We know this. Tell us something we don’t know.
Here’s something you may not have heard of. It’s called Mindfulness, and is a useful technique for managing stress.
Jordan Whitehead from the website Mindfulgym describes mindfulness as - ‘Mindfulness is a way of being and self-observing that teaches you to be more aware of your habitual thought patterns, to switch from your normal mode of functioning and experience the present moment’. Sounds good doesn’t it?
Mindfulness is a really easy tool you can use in your every-day life which can make a huge difference to the way you approach and manage your stress. It can help you to slow down, calm your mind, become more present and maintain a grounded centre while the world rushes around you. Try integrating these easy steps below into your day to day life, and find your way to a more present and more Zen you.
Take a Breather
This is a really easy one to start with. You can do this exercise anywhere, anytime and in a seated or standing position. Note the time, and spend one minute focusing on your breath. Keep your eyes open, and simply pay attention to your breath. And nothing else.
This might sound like an easy task but it can be quite challenging when you start thinking about what you’re going to cook for dinner that night or what time the next train is going to arrive. When these thoughts appear, pay them no attention, let them go and simply return back to focusing on the breath and being present in the moment.
Focus - Focus - Focus!
In this mindfulness exercise, you’ll need to find an every-day object around you. It might be your backpack, your coffee cup or a plant. Sit and observe the object. Keep your complete focus on the object, without thinking about what it looks like or how it feels. Just merely observe the object for what it is.
Once fully absorbed you may feel a sense of being present in the moment, and notice any thoughts from the past or future fade away.
Pay attention to your dinner
This is a really great exercise in mindfulness, and as an added bonus, will aid your digestion! In this exercise, when you sit down to a meal, the task is to simply sit and eat the meal without any distractions. Turn off the television and computer, put the books away and stop talking. Just sit, observe, and eat your dinner. Your mother would be so proud!
Pay attention to each piece of food you choose to eat next – how you cut the food, what muscles are used to chew the food, how does it smell and taste, and what is its texture? You might be surprised at how different your meal tastes when you eat it mindfully, and how well you digest your food!
Walk it out
Your next mindfulness mission involves taking a walk in a present state. While walking, notice the way your feet touch the ground, feel the breeze on your arms or face, the temperature of the air around you. Notice the people also walking near you, the dog being walked by its owner, the trees, plants and any smells.
Stay in the moment, and pay attention to everything around you. Allow any thoughts or judgements of the things you notice around you to float away with breeze. Oh, and enjoy!
Mind that Cue
This last exercise is designed to bring you back to the present moment and out of auto-pilot, by using cues in your everyday environment around you.
You choose the cue. It might be when you hear a bird call, then the phone rings or when you sit down on a chair. When this cue occurs, that’s your reminder to come back into the present moment, become focused on your breath and become mindful.
Pretty easy huh? These are really simple and convenient mindfulness exercises for you to incorporate into your daily life. So what are you waiting for? Start your mindfulness practice today and start enjoying the present! Handy tips:
- If you’re super keen, you can extend the first exercise over time until it becomes a daily meditation exercise.
- Gratefulness Challenge - Now that you’ve learnt to be mindful, present and aware of the environment around you, here is your next challenge should you choose to accept it! Keep a journal for 30 days, choosing one thing or experience daily that you are grateful for and write about it. It might be your friends and family, your job or that cat on the way home that is always looking for a pat. Whatever you choose, this exercise is designed to help you to focus on the positive and amazing things and experiences you have in your life, and to count your lucky stars for having them. What makes you feel grateful?