Mindfulness is the practice of being completely aware and free from judgment, which will help in stress relief.
When you are mindful, you are at peace because you are simply observing all that is happening within you, to you and around you, withholding judgment and reaction.
Stress related behaviours are not necessarily about the environment, but more about how the individual reacts to it.
Two people doing exactly the same job, under the same conditions, yet one of them is stressed, and hates it.
While the other person is happy, and just gets on with the job in hand with no problems.
While some people have learnt from an early age how to approach stress successfully, others may need a little help.
It will be training your mind how to respond to stress with calmness and clarity, instead of reacting negatively.
When stressed there are a few symptoms that can have an adverse effect on your health.
Symptoms of stress
- Unable to sleep, insomnia
- Chest pains and rapid heartbeat
- Increased amounts of colds and infections
- Loss of sexual desire
- Loss of energy
- Upset stomach, which can include diarrhea, constipation, or nausea
As well as these physical symptoms of stress, stress can also effect your emotions and general mood.
Here are a few symptoms of stress that may effect you mentally:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble learning new information
- Hard to make decisions
- Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed
- Little or no interest in appearance, punctuality
- Overreaction to small annoyances
- Nervous habits, such as nail biting or fidgeting
- Suicidal thought
- Crying bouts
How mindfulness reduces stress and builds inner strength
When we get stressed, approach it differently, instead of seeing it as a threat, see it as a challenge and face it head on.
This will help develop to our mental growth, instead of consuming us, this is where mindfulness will help.
- You will become more aware of your thoughts, and can step back from them.
- Instead of reacting to a stressful situation, you will find that you will pause, then you will respond with the best solution.
- Mindfulness will teach you to be in the “being” mode, which is associated with being relaxed. Instead of being in the “doing” mode, which is associated with reacting with a stress responds.
- You will become more self aware of the needs of your body, and notice the pains is stress earlier, then take preventative action.
- As you grow with mindfulness, you will become aware of the emotions of others, and be less likely to get into conflict with them
- As your compassion for yourself and others increases, this will reduce a stress response
- Mindfulness practices and exercises, reduces the activity in the part of the brain called the amygdala. This switches on your stress responses, so your overall level of stress is reduced.
- Better able to focus, as you will learn to get into “the zone” or “flow,” and have a greater sense of wellbeing, and be able to work more productively.
- The approach to stress will change, rather than seeing stress negatively, you will notice how increased pressure will energize you, and can have a positive effect on body and mind.
14 Mindfulness practices for stress reduction
There are many mindfulness exercises to help relieve stress, here are a few that you could try:
1.The body and breath meditation
As it sounds, the body and breath meditation focuses on the breath to become more mindful, which will improve clarity, and become more present.
2. Body scan meditation
The body scan meditation involves you laying on your back, and moving your awareness around your body, focusing on one part of your body at a time.
3. Object meditation
The object meditation requires you to hold an object in front of you, focusing all your attention on it using your senses.
Taking note of its shape, size, colour, texture, smell, taste or the sounds that it makes.
4. Mindful eating
Mindful eating requires you focus all of your senses while you eat.
You will learn to eat more slowly, taking notice of the smell, taste and every little detail of what you are eating
The raisin meditation is a good practice to learn to mindfully eat.
5. Walking meditation
The walking meditation is walking at a leisurely pace, and observing how you walk, and noticing the sensations in your body.
Notice how certain parts of your body feels, are they loose, tight or strong?
Be aware how your arms are moving, as well as the movement of your arms.
Try breathing in time with your footsteps as they hit the ground in unison.
6. Mindful movement
The mindful movement meditation is a series of stretches that put you out of your comfort zone.
Yoga is a very good practice to help with stress relief.
7. Start journaling
Journaling is a great way to learn about your emotions, as you put pen to paper, it will release you from your internal chatter.
It will help you learn more about yourself and the stressful situations that are encountered in your daily life.
So if you encounter those same stressful events again, you can approach them in a more positive way.
8. Mindful awareness
Becoming mindfully aware in your everyday life, involves taking notice of the things you do on an everyday basis.
This can be such things as washing the pots, preparing a meal or any other routine that is normally done on auto pilot.
9. Mindful listening
Mindful listening is where you start to listen more intently to the sounds around you.
Whether it be music on your headphones, are the sounds around you now.
Another way to mindfully listen is when engaged in conversation, try to listen more, with the intent of understanding.
10. Increase gratitude
Think of things in your life that you are grateful for in your life as it is now. These can be big or small things, or something in between.
When you increase gratitude, you will have a more positive view on life, and what you have.
11. Take a cold shower
Being more mindful while taking a cold shower is extremely beneficial, even though it may take time to get use to it.
But once you become accustomed to the cold showers, you will find that it is very mindful and will become a good habit to maintain.
As a mindfulness habit affirmations are positive phrase that you repeat to yourself to describe how you want to feel about yourself.
13. Find your passion in life
When you find your passion, something that you are passionate about, you will enter “the flow state.”
This can be either a physical activity or a creative passion such as art or writing.
14. Mindfulness meditation
Learning how to meditate first thing in the morning or last thing at night or both, will improve your mindfulness.
Just a few minutes a day out of your time, is a positive approach to your wellbeing, and will set you up for the day.