Mindfulness Practices to Try During Stressful Times
Are you plagued by constant feelings of stress and overwhelm? With no end to the amount of life-altering news, you might be looking for a reprieve in your everyday life. Mindfulness can be the moment of peaceful reflection that helps you conquer challenges a bit better than yesterday.
While you might be familiar with the concept of mindfulness, the Mayo Clinic provides a more concrete definition. Mindfulness is “a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment.”
Feeling in the moment is probably not the first thing you think of in times of stress. But, it is a way to build healthy coping mechanisms that can help center and calm you while you prepare to take the next step. While mindfulness is not a magic formula that will fix all of your problems, it can give you relief during stressful periods. Here are some ways you can incorporate mindfulness in your life and how to center yourself throughout your day:
Whether sitting, lying, or walking meditation, focus on your thoughts and breathing for a bit to help find a quiet moment. By accepting all your thoughts and acknowledging them, you begin to understand how you react to events in your life or the world around you.
2. Make It Part of Your Daily Routine
Adding mindfulness to your already busy schedule might sound like a lot, but consider how you can incorporate it into your day. It could be as simple as sitting in your office for five minutes before a meeting to breathe. If you make coffee in the mornings, focus on the taste, warmth, or the act of drinking your usual cup to take a moment to appreciate what you enjoy. Becoming more aware of the day you already plan is a simple way of starting your practice.
3. Limit Multitasking
The amount of work and responsibilities on your plate could be adding to your stress. It is easy to be overly ambitious and take on extra projects, tasks, and responsibilities. It is harder to limit the amount of work you do to help you find balance. Take time to figure out what is too much and what is not enough. Eventually, you will find yourself knowing how much work you can say yes to and how much will leave you burnt out.
4. Include Your Family
Being mindful doesn’t have to be a solo practice. Including your family can help you understand each other better and strengthen relationships. The responsibility of parenting can be overwhelming. Plus, it can be stressful for your kids who are growing up and learning more about the world. Take time when you are together to be present and aware. For example, driving your kid home from school can be a moment to reflect on their day and how they are feeling at that moment. Learn more about family mindfulness from the Child Mind Institute here.
5. Love and Accept Yourself
Practice loving yourself the way you would love a good friend or family member, showered with compliments. Wear an outfit that makes you feel super confident. Treat yourself to something nice. Do the things you know you love. Simple actions of self-care and appreciation daily can make you more aware of yourself and your needs.
Centering Yourself During Stress
It is okay to feel negative emotions and become overwhelmed. Denying your feelings can add to your stress rather than help. Mindfulness is about accepting without judgment. The following activities are things you can try to help calm yourself when emotions become overwhelming.
1. Sensory Distractions
Sometimes a physical sensation can distract our minds from overwhelming emotions. This could be holding ice cubes, eating sour candy, tensing and relaxing a specific muscle, or focusing on your breathing.
2. Calming Activity
Taking your mind off of something can mean focusing on a mundane and calm activity. Make a meal or snack and focus on how your body reacts to the food. Listen to your favorite music for a lyric or sound you might not have heard before. Coloring became popular during the pandemic as a way to calm the mind.
3. Compassion for Yourself and Others
It is okay if you do not know what you are doing all the time. We do not know how to handle every situation. When you are in a stressful situation, understand how it affects you and others. Showing a bit more compassion in the way you talk to or act to yourself and others can introduce little moments of relief for everyone.
4. Acknowledging Inner Narratives
If you leap to conclusions and spiral downward with “what if” sentences, you could worsen your anxiety. For example, you might be anxious about reading distressing news and the uncertainty of a situation. Recognize what is happening at the moment and what your mind tells you. Separating them will not be easy. But the more you practice, the easier it will become.
Mindfulness is a way to help you understand and relieve uncomfortable emotions. Although the research is not entirely conclusive, some studies suggest that practicing mindfulness may reduce anxiety, depression, and pain. Making mindfulness a part of your self-care routine can help you improve your mental wellbeing.
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