Stress is the scourge of modern times. It affects almost 80% of the population and contributes to six major causes of death, including cancer.
Yet, not all stress is bad. It’s a vital survival skill and perfectly healthy unless it continues for too long. The best way to ensure your stress levels don’t spiral out of control is to learn how to manage them.
Mindfulness is one of the best techniques for controlling your stress levels effectively and a great booster for your mental health.
Discover the secrets of mindfulness here.
1. Understand True Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a popular term nowadays but what does it truly mean? You can’t achieve this state of mind if you don’t know what you’re aiming for.
In short, mindfulness means staying in the moment. This exact moment, not a few days, or even minutes in the future.
It’s a total immersion in the stillness of this exact fragment of time. A total absence of thoughts that lead your mind somewhere else.
Practicing mindfulness helps still the racing thoughts in your head, increases your satisfaction with your life, and the ability to deal with stress.
When you focus on the fact that there’s nothing negative happening right now, you’re avoiding those niggling worries about the future and reminders about past regrets.
2. Get Physical
Mindfulness is a full-body experience. Focus on what’s going on in your body.
Become conscious of your breathing, posture, and the tension in your muscles. Get out of your head and acknowledge your body.
Here’s how to practice this technique:
- Take time to notice the rise and fall of your breath.
- Explore whether you’re feeling unnecessary tension in your arms, legs, neck, or belly.
- Let the tension flow out of these areas.
- Become aware of your posture and figure out how to feel more comfortable.
The more you practice awareness of your physical self, the easier it becomes to feel grounded and present in the moment.
3. Mindful Eating
Often, we race through the day filling our bodies with whatever food’s most easily available. These poor choices can have serious health consequences too.
Pay attention to every bite of everything you eat and immerse yourself in the experience.
Don’t eat while working, driving, or walking. This makes it impossible to focus on the task at hand.
Eating slowly and mindfully encourages intentional meal choices and helps you feel satisfied faster. Learn to think of food as vital sustenance and not just something you do to still a gnawing discomfort in your belly.
Learn to eat with respect for your body.
4. Get Out More
Spending time outdoors is good for your mental health and also encourages healthful exercise.
Make the most of it by fully appreciating every moment. Pause to take in the sounds of birds in the surrounding trees. Pay close attention to the different hues of flowers and leaves. Truly feel the brush of a breeze against your face.
Use every one of your senses to immerse yourself in the wonders of nature. Even the crisp winter air offers opportunities to invigorate your awareness of the present moment.
5. Meditate Regularly
Set aside time every day for mindfulness meditation, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Meditation helps unlock your ability to practice mindfulness in every area of your daily life.
You can meditate anywhere, even on the bus, or at your desk during your lunch break. Any time you can take a few minutes to quiet your mind and take in the sounds around you counts as meditation.
Here’s how to get started with meditation:
- Begin with a few deep breaths and focus on your breathing throughout
- Spend a few moments becoming mindful of your body
- Reflect on your energy levels and emotions
- Think of positive things you can do for others
- Focus on what you can do for your fulfillment
If you find that you succumb to distractions too easily, try some of these tips on how to improve focus.
6. Make Time for Yourself
Nowadays everyone’s busy all the time. Between your work tasks, household chores, and commute you’ve barely got time to think.
Set aside a few moments every day to reflect on what you want from life. Use this time to set goals, think of ways you can improve, and how to put these ideas into effect.
Write down these thoughts and set up small targets for yourself.
If you don’t take steps to achieve your aims, your whole life will pass by in a flash before you have a chance to live up to your expectations. Get rid of a ‘one-day’ mentality and take a more proactive approach to life.
You might not be able to achieve all your hopes and dreams in a week or even a year, but you can take small steps in the right direction every day. A sense of purpose gives meaning to your daily existence and keeps you in the here-and-now.
7. Deal With Your Emotions On the Spot
Negative thoughts, apprehension, and uncomfortable emotions are part of life. Deal with them.
Don’t hide from uncomfortable feelings by immersing yourself in work or technology and avoid the urge to eat or drink them away.
Teach yourself to confront these emotions, experience them, and move on. If you don’t learn this skill, you’ll never escape from niggling unpleasant emotions.
You can learn to meet, greet, and defeat negative feelings as follows:
Create a mental discomfort scale from one to ten. For example, a meeting with your boss may be an irritation that ranks either a low two on your irritation scale or a solid, terrifying ten.
Think about how you feel when you experience that emotion and allow yourself to fully understand how your body reacts to it. Can you feel your muscles tensing and your heart racing?
Cling onto those experiences for a minute and then let them go.
Practice dealing with a range of emotions on every level of your scale until you’ve mastered them all
When you confront the physical manifestations of your fears in this manner, you’ll soon realize that you have nothing to worry about after all.
Get More of What You Need
One last tip for improving mindfulness is to practice self-care. A little bit of luxury goes a long way towards enhancing your peace of mind.
Keep browsing our magazine for more ideas on life’s little luxuries and how to include them in your daily routine.