MINDFULNESS IS NO LONGER an esoteric ideal. Harvard Medical School and JAMA acknowledge the benefits of mindfulness on anxiety, stress reduction and depression. Large corporations are instating mindfulness as part of their wellness programs. You don't need to wait until the timing is perfect - it never is! Mindfulness simply means to be present and aware of the moment you are experiencing. The science behind mindfulness is abundant but the true test is.... how much lighter do you feel? How much less forgetful are you? What happens to your focus? How much less stress do you feel?
7 MINDFUL HACKS TO BECOME LESS STRESSED
1. Mindful breathing - it all starts here!
Taking a breath.... taking a breather ...stepping back.... cooling down. These are all sayings we use to express the deep inhale and slow exhale which quite simply allows us to 'touch the miracle of being alive.' A deep breath calms the mind, provides a sense of concentration and is a proven source of happiness.
2.Meditation- even if it is for 3 minutes to start
Try setting aside a certain time in your day so you remember to step back. First thing in the morning is ideal to set the tone of your day. A 3-5 minute guided meditation is a good place to start!
3. Mindful Breakfast - treat your breakfast like a wine tasting!
Enjoying the complex nature of taste doesn't have to be reserved for wine tastings! You may only have time for a smoothie in the morning but you can still enjoy the creation with reverence. Slowing down to taste your food is an excellent way to lower stress levels.
Next time you are stuck in bumper to bumper traffic while commuting to work, remember, we are the traffic. It’s not just the person in the car next to you that makes the traffic. They may be thinking the same about you. We are all trying to be somewhere.
Simply recognize how you feel amongst all the stimuli. Take note of it and realize how you want to contribute to your surroundings. Use the opportunity to slow down and practice mindful connections with yourself and with those around you. The result is a calmer mind and a less stressful commute.
"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." - Viktor E. Frankl
5. Mindful Waiting - be aware of your changing emotions
It’s rarely fun to stand in line or pass time in a busy waiting room. We can certainly cram in another few minutes of screen time or we can see it as an opportunity to connect with our breath. To be aware of our emotions as we wait. Do anxieties arise? Impatience?
Observe your emotions from a distance, refrain from judging your feelings. Feelings are emotions that come and go all day long. Simply use this opportunity to take a deep breath. Notice how your stress levels start to decrease with each breath you take.
"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."- Viktor E. Frankl
6. Mindful Curiosity - have fun even if you are determined not to
What if we approach our day with curiosity? What can the day teach us about ourselves? What unique perspectives which our children or other people share with us can we ponder?
Allowing curiosity to enrich your life makes your day an adventure and helps to break the mundane. Curiosity softens our reactive response and ultimately changes the way we look at stressful situations.
7. Mindful Sleep - 'thank you, bed'
Do you ever approach your bed at the end of a long day and mentally thank your bed for being there for you? Feeling the sheets on your skin, enjoying the invitation to rest and put your feet up? Sleep can be seen as a gift to nourish and repair our mind and body. Take a few minutes at bedtime to unwind without the distraction of electronics or the t.v. Ending your day with a mindful activity is the perfect way to induce a sense of calm and promote a better night's sleep.