Mindfulness and stress management techniques help you recognize and accept negative emotions like stress or anxiety, then practice letting them go as easily as if riding waves in an ocean.
Jon Kabat-Zinn established Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), initially on Buddhist principles but which has since become more secularized. Studies show it reduces stress levels and improves mental health in healthy individuals.
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation involves paying close attention to what’s happening in the present moment – including physical sensations and thoughts – without judgment of either good or bad thoughts. It helps develop awareness without judgment as to which are “good” or “bad.”
Mindfulness meditation aims to increase your awareness and acceptance of your thoughts, emotions, and body to help reduce stress and enhance overall well-being. Formal programs exist that specialize in mindfulness-based stress reduction while informal mindfulness practices such as paying attention to senses while making coffee can also benefit greatly from mindfulness practice.
Studies demonstrate the power of mindfulness meditation to dramatically enhance quality of life by decreasing anxiety, depression and pain while improving sleep, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Meditation may even alter brain structure by altering activity in areas that regulate attention and emotion – speak with your therapist about adding mindfulness meditation into their treatment plan – click now to be connected with vetted and licensed therapists!
2. Breathing Exercises
Mindfulness meditation can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and boost immune function while increasing focus and improving cognitive performance. If committing to formal meditation practice is out of the question for any reason, mindfulness exercises can still be performed anywhere from quiet corners at work or home during lunch breaks or before bed.
Try deep breathing as a relaxing technique; simply concentrate on feeling air come in and out through your nose, then return your focus back onto the breathing pattern when thoughts distract you from relaxing. If thoughts do interrupt, simply bring back focus back onto breathing again.
Progressive muscle relaxation is another breathing exercise, in which you alternate tensing and relaxing different parts of your body systematically. Regular practice helps develop an intimate knowledge of what tension feels like, enabling you to recognize it quickly so you can relax at the first sign of tightness in the body and subsequently.
Paying attention to all five senses can transform any activity into a mindfulness exercise, even something as mundane as drinking tea can become an enjoyable sensory experience when taking time to appreciate its scent, flavor and warm feeling as it slides down your throat.
Mindfulness refers to paying attention to what is occurring around us and our experience in the present moment, making time stand still and being present with what you are experiencing at any given moment. Mindfulness forms the core of most religious practices and has been studied scientifically for its benefits in terms of happiness, well-being and stress management.
People struggling with mental health often have trouble keeping their attention focused on what’s happening now, leading to anxiety and depression. Instead, their thoughts often veer into past negative events or worries of what could come later in the future. Mindfulness training can teach individuals how to stay grounded in the present moment to ease stress and increase emotional stability.
Yoga relies on slow and deep breathing exercises that help your body produce less cortisol while increasing oxygen flow to your brain, soothing your nervous system. Yoga can also be combined with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which involves learning how to recognize unhelpful thinking and behavior patterns and change them through training programs.
4. Relaxation Exercises
Relaxation exercises (such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery) can be highly effective ways of relieving stress. By regularly engaging in these practices and practicing them on yourself or with a therapist you may increase their efficacy.
Mindfulness meditation has been found to be effective at alleviating feelings of stress, anxiety and depression in some individuals. Furthermore, it may improve sleep quality as well as ease gastrointestinal distress.
Practice mindfulness wherever and whenever, with no special equipment necessary, by simply paying attention to your surroundings and noting any sensations. For example, focus on listening to the sound of your breathing, feeling it enter and exit your nose and mouth or repeating one word out loud to yourself. When thoughts wander off course simply gently bring them back on track. Check out HelpGuide’s deep breathing meditation as a simple but powerful way to activate the relaxation response in your body.