Stress is a complex subject. But one thing’s for sure; most of us are living with more of it than ever before. Now, whether the reason for that is a faster pace of life, more technology, social comparison or a sense of increased responsibility I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s a different mix for each of us. But, I do know that a lot of stress comes from spending too much time ruminating over the past and worrying about the future. I believe that we can change that - and reduce some of our stress - by learning to live mindfully in the present moment as often as we can.
Living mindfully doesn’t only help us to reduce stress but it’s also been shown to…
- Improve focus
- Control blood pressure
- Cultivate spiritual growth
- Help you to let go of your ego
- Build feelings of gratitude
So that’s reduced stress levels, a host of health benefits and improved focus. I think that most of us would be happy to welcome those. If you’re new to the idea of using mindfulness to reduce daily stress and are wondering where to start - and how it fits into your day - then here are a few tips that I’ve found useful along the way…
FOCUS ON YOUR BREATH
You can use your breath as an anchor, even in the most stressful moments. You can harness it at any time to help us feel calmer and more present in our day. Try it now. Take a slow breath through your nose and right down into your belly, hold it for a second or two and then slowly release it through your nose. Feels good, doesn’t it. Do it a couple more times and then focus on your breath moving naturally in and out for a few more moments.
It’s simple and I encourage you to explore breathwork as part of your meditation practice and delve deeper into the benefits that it offers.
REDUCE TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Scrolling through our phones draws us away from the present moment. Yes, sometimes it can be fun to connect with others but often it triggers negative emotions such as comparison, anxiety and vulnerability to name a few.
If you find yourself reaching for your phone at every opportunity, try taking a break. It takes time to re-train your mind to feel comfortable with taking a moment of pause without trying to fill the gap with extra stimuli. But, persistence pays off.
And, if you often feel distracted by your phone in the company of others, please consider the message that you’re sending to the people that you love the most.
DON’T DWELL ON THE PAST
You’re reliving the conversation in your head, you should have said this or what did he mean by that? You know how it goes! When you find yourself ruminating over something that’s already happened, try guiding your attention slowly back into the present. Look around you and focus on what you can hear or smell. Take a moment to feel grateful for something in your life. Whatever you were ruminating over is in the past and usually can’t be changed. If it’s something you need to learn from then acknowledge the lesson, thank the universe for it and move on.
Do you ever eat lunch while scrolling through your phone? And before you know it your plate is empty and you haven’t really tasted anything you’ve eaten. This can easily lead to eating more food because you haven’t acknowledged that you’ve eaten a meal. Over the next week try putting down your phone - or any other distractions - and eat mindfully. Slowing down to enjoy the taste and texture of your food is more enjoyable and it’s said to help healthy digestion and encourage weight loss.
There was a time when just the thought of slowing down would have made me anxious. I believed that it was for other people, not me - little did I know back then! But, I know from some of your messages that so many of you still find it a challenge to create a moment of pause in your day. Well, you’re in the right place because my blog is full of tips and support. But, if I could only offer you one simple piece of advice it would be to look for the natural pauses in your day. There are more of them than you think; queuing for coffee, waiting for the kids to finish school or even visiting the bathroom! They’re all opportunities to pause, to take a few deep breaths and check in with ourselves before carrying on with our day feeling more present and much calmer.
It’s so very simple to cultivate more gratitude in your life. Pause at any point during your day and think of at least three things that you’re grateful for. Everything from having fresh water to drink and a comfortable home, to your family, work that you enjoy or the support of a loving friend during a difficult time.
Creating a gratitude practice can also be helpful; include it as part of your daily meditation, prayer or journaling. Or simply find a quiet moment to feel gratitude for all that you are blessed with.
Cultivating gratitude can make such a difference to your life, if you’d like to learn more then here on a few more tips on creating a gratitude mindset.
There’s nothing holding you back from using mindfulness to reduce your daily stress, it can be enjoyed in the natural pauses in your day and you don't need anything special to get started. There are no classes or expensive equipment needed - it's absolutely free! Start today and I’m sure that you’ll feel the benefits in no time.
AUTHOR: LEANNA DOOLIN
Co – Founder of holistic skincare brand, Pure Thoughts and advocate for women finding pause in their day to breathe deeply, give thanks and reconnect to what matters. Loves early mornings, dogs and books that you can’t put down.