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Reducing Daily Stress and Staying Mindful

Reducing Daily Stress and Staying Mindful

Stress comes in many forms and on many levels. On a daily basis, small stressors and worries can keep us from living a happy and relaxed life. Not only that, but stress is also a contributor to heart disease and other illnesses. If you find yourself pondering the past or worried about the future, bring yourself into the present and reduce stress through the practice of mindfulness. 

Essentially, mindfulness means to be present at the moment. It is important to understand this simple fact. All too often the true essence of mindfulness can be over-complicated, and emphasis is placed on the act of meditation alone. Mindfulness is not something you only do while seated in meditation, but something that can carry throughout everyday life. 

It is often in the more repetitive, day-to-day activities that we find ourselves switching to autopilot. These moments are perfect opportunities to be more mindful. It is important not to worry about trying to clear your mind of any thoughts or feelings. Instead, try to visualize yourself taking a back seat, witnessing the thoughts and emotions as they come and go. If you find yourself getting distracted, simply bring your attention back to the physical senses and focus your attention on the activity at hand. 

6 Ways to Be Mindful: 

  1. In the shower - Become aware of how good the warm water feels as it washes over your skin. Be mindful of the smell of the shower gel, and the sensation of your hands passing over your skin. Process your thoughts; be mindful of how much water you’re using, and mindful of the noise of the water coming to a halt.
  2. While brushing your teeth - Become mindful of the taste and texture of the toothpaste; notice the sensation of your feet on the bathroom floor; be mindful of the way that your arm moves to direct the brush across your teeth; focus on every tooth.
  3. During your commute - It’s important to note the feelings you have and address them as part of a mindful practice. For example, think of the people around you and consider what they might be feeling. Be mindful of the environment as a whole and your resistance to it; notice how you might try to escape the present moment and daydream. Be mindful of the journey and how it feels – is the ride bumpy or is it comfortable and smooth? A person sitting on a bus on their way to work.
  4. While you wait in line - Take an opportunity to experience it and understand your body’s reactions to the situation. Notice how your mood changes when you first catch a glimpse of the queue for the bank; mindful of how you stand, your breath, and where any tension areas you scan through your body. Be mindful of the tendency to distract yourself from the present moment; and mindful of how you interact with the people around you.
  5. While you eat - Try to find some time in your schedule to enjoy a meal without distraction. Eat slowly and notice the way the food smells; notice the texture of it; notice what the first bite feels like. Be aware of thoughts or feelings that arise as you’re eating. Take note of whether your experience changes if you’re eating with someone versus eating alone. Eating mindfully is a great way to practice incorporating mindfulness into your daily life. A family of four eating dinner at the dinner table.
  6. Breathe - For most of us, being present takes some effort—particularly when we’re experiencing stress. Oftentimes, we find ourselves ruminating about a past event, or worried about the future. Paying attention to your breathing is a great way to bring your focus back to the present moment. Begin by sitting comfortably, closing your eyes, and gently bringing your awareness to your breath. Feel the rise and fall of your chest and belly as you inhale and exhale. Thoughts will come and go—this is natural. When your mind starts to wander, gently bring your focus back to the sensations of the breath. Setting aside as little as five minutes each day for this exercise is a great way to practice mindfulness and manage stress.