Have you wondered how you can use mindfulness to relieve your stress quickly? Say you’ve just had a conversation with a significant other or colleague that left you feeling uneasy. It affected your mood and shook the concentration you needed for the rest of your day. Mindfulness, a practice to cultivate being in the present moment with non-judgmental awareness, has been touted for a range of benefits from greater concentration to improved relationships. Studies also indicate that it can also help you manage stress and reduce anxiety.
Below are three easy mindfulness practices you can use in the course of your day to help you shift out of stress mode.
Tuning into Your Breath
Concentrating on your breath is a great way to let go of negative thoughts and emotions. A continuous replay in your mind of that upsetting conversation can keep you stuck in the past or living in an imaginary future. There are many breathing practices that can be used to help you relieve stress. Focusing on your breath for even 3 to 5 minutes can help break the cycle and bring you back into the present, since that is the only place the breath can be. And, as a result, your body shifts from a fight-or-flight to a relaxation response.
As you breathe, you may become more aware of your thoughts and begin to see why you were upset. But remember, what you think is not necessarily a fact. The thoughts going through your mind might be uncorroborated beliefs about what someone is thinking or doing. Or they may require further inquiry. Regardless, you will have given yourself space to shift your mood and improve your concentration before you meet the rest of your day.
Tuning into Your Senses
Focusing on one or more of the five senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste – is another great practice.
Sound is my favorite sense on which to meditate. It is particularly delicious on a nature walk but can be done anywhere. Take in the sounds around you in the present moment – birds chirping, clocks ticking, voices in the background, car horns beeping. Some sounds may be more pleasant than others. Just notice what is there in each moment without judging what you think about the sound.
Taking a Mindful Walk
Move your body – with intention. In a mindful walk, you are shifting your attention to the experience and sensations of the movement. When you walk pay attention to the movement of your feet – the heels of the feet, balls of the feet, and toes, noticing the lifting, placing, and shifting in each step. The length of your walking path need not be long. When you reach the end pause briefly, turn around, and continue your walk.
Another approach to a mindful walk is to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of nature if you are walking outside. While mindful walking can be done at any pace, for the purpose of stress relief, try a slow or moderate pace, but one that allows you to retain your balance.
In each of these practices, you may notice your mind wander. That is normal. Simply meet this awareness with a gentle curiosity and bring your attention back to the primary focus. Be patient with yourself. And, only do those practices that are right for you physically and emotionally.
These are a few brief practices to help you relieve your stress. Take note of what most resonates with you and integrate it into your day.
I look forward to sharing more mindfulness tips in the future. You can learn more about mindfulness here and in my workshops and other offerings.