When we get stressed, sad, anxious, or angry, we typically want those feelings to just disappear. This is completely natural. It can be difficult to sit with uncomfortable emotions, especially when we feel there’s no easy way to relieve them. While taking your mind off whatever it is that’s stressing you out or making you feel upset can help to put us at ease, it doesn’t solve our solution or make us feel better in the long run. To healthily face our emotions instead of sweeping them under the rug, practice mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of becoming self-aware in the present moment. It allows us to bring a healthy presence to our everyday experience and identify elements of our speech, thought, and behavior that may be hindering us or others. Mindfulness is the practice of being at ease with what is. The more you practice, the easier it will be to accept when certain uncomfortable feelings are present.
How do I practice mindfulness to reduce stress?
Stress is a natural part of life. However, when stress manifests itself in the form of distress, it can chip away at our mental, physical, and emotional reserves. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with stress, then try being more mindful, and you may just find that those feelings dissipate over time.
To help reduce stress, try out these mindfulness activities:
The name game
Sit quietly in a space. Look around you and name three things you can hear. Then name two things you can see. Finally, name one sensation you feel. It’s a simple exercise that helps you connect with your surroundings and feelings, grounding yourself. By increasing your awareness of your body and environment, you help to connect to the present to take your worry off the future.
This is a simple mindfulness-based stress reduction exercise that brings your attention to an area of your body to help bring your awareness to the present. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, then bring your attention to your feet. Pay attention to any sensations in your feet, whether it’s the carpet beneath your toes or the fabric of your sock on your foot. Take in every sensation. Slowly, move your way up your body, putting a gentle focus on each area. Notice how each part of your body feels at the moment.
The quality of our breathing tells us a lot about where our headspace is at. If you’re feeling a bit anxious, it’s likely that your breath may feel short and shallow, A simple way to relieve stress is to practice deep breathing, Sit in a comfortable place and in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and begin in inhale deeply. Count to four, hold the breath in for four, then breathe out slowly for four more seconds. Repeat this at least five times or for as long as it takes to feel less stressed. When breathing, think about following the breath in through the nose, holding in the belly, then exhaling it from the chest.
When we’re stressed, we may not feel like eating or we may turn to junk food for comfort. Either way, it’s a good idea to whip up a healthy meal and practice mindful eating to alleviate feelings of stress. For this exercise, you’re simply going to slow down. Put away all distractions while eating and just focus on your food. Use all of your senses. How does your food taste? What does it smell like? What’s the texture? What sounds does it make when you chew it? When you slow down, you now only push your focus onto your food and away from whatever is worrying you, but your body will be able to digest it better, too.