Mindfulness and meditation can help reduce your stress levels significantly. Both practices allow you to recognize negative thoughts and emotions objectively, helping you more easily regulate them.
Joanne Coffey ’19 of Southern New Hampshire University outlines what mindfulness is and its effectiveness for relieving stress.
Stress is a normal part of life.
Stress is an inevitable part of life, and sometimes its beneficial. Stressful situations may help prepare us for potential danger or motivate us towards reaching goals; but when your level of stress becomes excessive and negatively affects both health and well-being, assistance should be sought immediately.
One effective way to manage stress is through mindfulness meditation. Once reserved for Buddhist monks only, meditation has now become accessible and secular – with studies finding people who meditate develop a “beginner’s mind,” helping them let go of biases and approach problems creatively. Furthermore, long-term practice of meditation can even decrease cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress response.
Mindfulness techniques that you might consider include deep breathing, sensory exercises (like paying attention to how wind feels on your skin), journaling, cognitive behavioral therapy or cognitive retraining therapy – each can help.
It’s a normal part of work.
Mindfulness meditation involves paying attention to your breath while actively distancing distracting thoughts from your mind. Many find it easier and more beneficial to start off by listening to guided meditations for guidance.
Mindful meditation can help reduce stress response, which has numerous positive health impacts on both physical and mental wellbeing. Furthermore, practicing mindful meditation daily and making it part of your routine will increase empathy and compassion in yourself and others. For best results it should become part of everyday life – something every one should make a priority!
At first, it is best to start off slowly and work up gradually to 40-minute sessions of mindful meditation each day. Make sure that it occurs at times when you don’t feel particularly stressed so you can develop a regular practice – this may take some time and patience, but the benefits make it worth your while!
It’s a normal part of relationships.
Mindfulness practice can bring to light any negative thoughts or emotions that are plaguing our daily lives, and lead to greater compassion and empathy towards others, ultimately strengthening relationships.
Mindfulness practice can be challenging. It requires discipline and perseverance to sit still and focus on breathing while taking notice of all that surrounds us, but having an encouraging community to discuss challenges and achievements of meditation with can make the experience much smoother.
Meditation is often associated with mindfulness; this practice involves sitting upright and paying attention to your breath while trying to calm your mind. But mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways: for example, eating mindfully by paying attention to texture, temperature and taste while eating is another effective form of practice as is listening out for wind rustling through trees or taking a stroll in nature.
It’s a normal part of life.
Mindfulness meditation is a regular practice of returning your focus back to the present moment by returning your attention gently back. You can do it either sitting still in a formal position, or while engaged in everyday tasks such as brushing teeth or eating meals.
The key is recognizing thoughts as they arise without reacting or feeding into them. At first it may seem difficult, but with practice it becomes easier and more beneficial.
Implementing mindfulness into your everyday life can also help you break free of unconscious patterns of behavior such as biting nails or clenching your jaw, as well as improving sleep quality to leave you feeling less fatigued during the day.
Studies have demonstrated that those who practice mindfulness experience reduced symptoms of burnout at work, improved emotional regulation and stress relief, reduced depression and anxiety levels and less depression and anxiety. Mindfulness may even help slow cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s disease while improving the quality of your relationships and decreasing negative emotions like anger and envy while cultivating more positive ones like compassion and joy.