Stress. It’s constant, it’s necessary, and it’s never going to go away. The key to living with stress is managing it successfully. Stress is not something we can ignore. Think of stress as being cumulative; that is, the weight of stress builds up over time until you just can’t bear it any longer.
Take a full glass of water, and place it on the counter in front of you. Now, pick it up, then put it back down on the counter again. Repeat. Easy, right? You could probably do that forever. Because you relieve the weight (weight of the glass=stress) every few seconds, it’s easy to take it on again.
Now, take that same glass of water in your hand, and extend your arm out. Keep your arm straight, and hold that glass of water for as long as you can. You will begin to feel the weight (stress) build over time.
Without the ability to relieve that stress, you will reach a point of exhaustion. You will either drop the glass, sending shards of glass and water everywhere, or cry out for help, or you will recognize that you need, must put the glass back down on the counter.
Stress is precisely the same thing.
Try these five mindfulness practices to ease your stress!
- Lay comfortably on the ground, on your back, with a blanket to keep warm.
- Feel yourself begin to sink into the earth. Feel the earth support your entire body. Begin to become one with the earth.
- Flex and relax your toes, moving up through your calves, then thighs, flexing and relaxing each muscle and joint until you reach your head.
- Repeat these words in your mind, over and over: “In this moment, I am at peace. In this moment, I am enough. In this moment, I am all that I need to be. In this moment, I am loved.”
2. Belly Breathing
It’s no surprise that we don’t often breathe as deeply as we should.
- Sit down, or lie flat. The key is that you are comfortable.
- Place one hand, palm down, on your belly, the other hand, palm down, on your chest.
- Breath in deeply through your nose so that your belly expands and pushes your hand out. The hand on your chest should not move at all.
- Breathe out through your lips, like you are trying to whistle. The hand on your belly should fall inward as all the air comes out.
- Take your time, don’t force your breath.
- Start with a session of three to five breaths, and work your way up to a session of ten breaths.
Of course, meditation can be taken to a high form, but you can begin simply.
- Take just a few minutes at the end of your day to sit quietly, with your back tall and your legs crossed comfortably.
- Rest your hands on your thighs or knees.
- Relax your gaze.
- Allow your thoughts to turn to your breath.
- If your thoughts drift toward something else, acknowledge that thought briefly, then return it to your breath.
- Just sit quietly, breathing and thinking about your breath.
4. Living in the Moment
This one is a bit tricky. It’s about being truly present.
- During your next “moment,” be in it.
- Do not think about what’s coming up next or what happened last night.
- Find the tiniest pleasures and beauties in whatever you are doing, even making dinner or driving to work.
- Smile more often.
- Be silly. Be engaged.
- Pay attention.
- Be present. Let go of yourself.
5. Self Love
Take some time to show yourself some compassion.
- Imagine that you are your own friend. How would you show yourself love? That you are a worthy human?
- Too often, our minds are full of negative self-talk, and we often tear ourselves down.
- Make a list of just five traits that you genuinely love about your personality.
- Describe how you have really grown as a person over the last year or how you are a great friend.
- Be as kind to yourself as you are to others.
- Be honest!