Mindfulness: 5 Techniques to Reduce Stress

In today’s day and age, it is easy to be on automatic-pilot. There is a simple way to slow down: mindfulness. The health benefits include increased working memory and positive emotions, decreased stress levels and blood pressure and improved mind body connection.

What is Mindfulness?

  1. Mindfulness traces back to old, Buddhist traditions. In today’s society, many people who practice yoga, practice the embodiment of this mind-body connection.
  2. Mindfulness is simply having awareness. It is the practice of having awareness of your thoughts, feelings, sensations and external stimulation while staying in the present moment.
  3. Mindfulness let’s you accept what is happening in the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness is having a heightened capacity to simply be in the present moment, not in the future or the past. It may be described as having enlightenment but it is not a “perfect” state of zen. Practicing mindfulness let’s you be in a calm state of mind and having awareness of this in the present moment.You can be mindful about practically anything and at any moment.
  4. Mindfulness is a practice you can use in daily life and with just about anything: eating, walking, working, practicing hobbies-at any opportunity.

Mindful Breathing

  1. Choose an opportunity to practice mindfulness.
  2. It can be anywhere- train, car, subway, office, home.
  3. Take time to focus on your breathing. Slow it down.
  4. Either close your eyes and tune into your hearing or focus on a spot.
  5. Don’t judge your thoughts. If they drift, shift them back to this moment.6. Practice for minutes at a time.

Mindful Eating

  1. Choose a meal or snack to practice mindfulness.
  2. It can be anywhere- restaurant, kitchen, or your desk-preferably quiet and alone.
  3. Take time to focus on your breathing. Slow it down.
  4. Close your eyes and tune into your five senses.
  5. Don’t judge your thoughts. If they drift, shift them back to this moment.
  6. Pay attention to flavors, texture, how it changes or disintegrates in your mouth.

Mindful Body Scan

When practicing mindfulness you can learn about body scans. I have worked with many people who have anxiety.

  1. It helps to find a quiet place. When practicing the mindful body scan, you want to be sitting or laying down.
  2. Understanding body scans allows one to be mindful of different muscle groups in the body starting from toe-to-head. The idea is to focus on various body parts, one-by-one, tightening muscle tension and then releasing.
  3. Working up from your toes, bring awareness to each body part: your feet, ankles, calves, knees, hips, abdomen, chest, throat, eyes, up to the top of your head.
  4. This technique, coupled with deep breathing, allows a person to feel more calm after it’s practice. If having an anxiety or panic attack, tightening your muscle groups and then relaxing them while focusing on breath, let’s your sympathetic nervous system come back to neutral.
  5. I recommend practicing this each day especially if you struggle with anxiety. Be proactive. It doesn’t matter if you are having anxiety attacks or not.
  6. How It Works? You tune into different body parts or muscle groups that you rarely pay attention to. It helps decrease stress, release tension, and relax you. Mindful body scans allow you to tune in to sensations that you might otherwise ignore.

Mindful Open Awareness Meditation

Meditation typically involves sitting in a quiet space, with your eyes closed, either listening to stillness or white noise. It is a practice that many people have difficulty with, mainly because it is a prepared event going on for many, many minutes.
Mindfulness can be described as the first steps to meditation.
Mindfulness open awareness meditation is slightly different. It is the practice of awareness that can be done at anytime or anywhere for a few seconds or minutes.

  1. Find a place where you are.
  2. Observe your breath.
  3. You may want to close your eyes.
  4. Bring your attention to your thoughts and feelings you are experiencing.
  5. Try not to judge what is going on in this moment.

Mindful Yoga

  1. Set a mat down in an open space.
  2. Take time to practice yoga, about 15 to 30 minutes.
  3. Select a beginner yoga video for guidance.
  4. Practice deep breathing through the poses
  5. Practice awareness of bodily sensations through the poses.
  6. Breath through pain, frustration, stress.
  7. Leave it all behind in the practice.

How to Make It a Habit?

Mindfulness is a practice. It takes time. I would suggest starting with a few minutes a day, each day, for a few weeks. The benefits are proven. When my clients explain how mindfulness fits into their lives, they report feeling less anxious and more present. They explain they have less negative thoughts and are happier as a result of practicing mindfulness.

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