Finding Your Calm and Destressing through Mindfulness

 

Life can be stressful. It can be hectic and busy at times. We are on the move all the time and things don’t slow down. A vacation or just a break may seem like a luxury, one that may never come. Yet, there is a way to destress and relax, even if it is just for a few minutes, multiple times a day by practicing the concept of mindfulness.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, mindfulness or mindful, can be defined as “being aware of one’s surroundings, your emotions, and mental state by focusing on the present moment.” It is a therapeutic technique that has been proven to produce many health benefits. In addition, the concept has been considered as a type of meditation used to reduce stress. Practicing mindfulness allows one to acknowledge and process feelings, thoughts, and body movements, while detaching from reality for a few moments and redirecting one’s attention.

The benefits of mindfulness impact a person’s overall wellness, mental, and physical health. Mindfulness can help with specific things, such as stress relief, anxiety, chronic pain, heart disease, depression, hypertension, and insomnia. These benefits affect adults, college students, and children. For students, mindfulness has been shown to improve their academic success, better social interactions, improve social-emotional learning, and emotion regulation. No matter your age, you can practice being mindful with these simple techniques.

  • Start small at first as mindfulness can take some time to get used to. Begin with sitting quietly, back straight, closing your eyes, and focusing on your natural breathing with a sitting meditation exercise. You can also sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground if that is more comfortable. Breathe through your nose. Place your hand on your stomach and feel the in and out pattern of your breathing. You can also repeat a silent word or mantra as you go.
  • Next, notice how your body feels with a body scan meditation. Lie on your back with your extremities extended and at your sides, palms up for your arms. Draw your attention to what your body, head to toe, is doing. What are your arms doing? What about your legs? Lastly, focus on your senses and emotions. You may need to open your eyes for this one. Take deep breaths and let go of anything negative you may feel or notice in your surroundings. As you go through this exercise, pay attention to only one thing at a time. For example, don’t focus on sights and sounds at the same time.
  • Another version of these meditations is by completing the walking meditation exercise. Whether it is indoors or outdoors, try to find a quiet place to slowly walk. Focus on your walking, your surroundings, and your movements.
  • If you are looking for quicker practices, try these two exercises.
    • Start each day with a purpose or a specific attitude to center on. Each morning when you rise, before checking emails or social media, sit on your bed or chair with a relaxed posture. Take three deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then, ask yourself “What is my purpose for today?” You may choose to focus on self-care, gratitude, or acceptance. To determine this intention, consider the following questions: How might I have the best impact today? What do I need to take better care of myself? How might I feel more connected and fulfilled today? After setting this goal, check in with yourself throughout the day and make any changes as needed. You can also set specific goals for certain days, such as Monday you are focusing on compassion, Tuesday is celebration, and so on.
    • Be present with what you are eating and it doesn’t matter what time of the day. Breathe before eating and then zero in on your food. Reflect on what it looks like, smells, and feels like. Then, taste it and enjoy. Slow down your eating to allow more time for digestion. If you don’t like your food, don’t eat it. After three mindful bites, if you aren’t feeling it, move onto another food.

For more kid-specific practices, options include muscle relaxation and positive affirmations. For muscle relaxation, start in a standing position, staring at your feet. Beginning with your feet, squeeze all of your muscles for five seconds and then slowly release them. Continue moving up through your legs and the rest of your body.

Practicing mindfulness increases a person’s ability to enjoy the pleasures of life, the happy moments, and to be fully engaged in the present. Through these activities, you are focusing on what matters the most and finding calm in a crazy world.

 

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