A lot of people think that engaging in mindfulness practices is all about achieving a state of immediate zen. There is no reason to think that way! In fact, thinking that you’ll achieve nirvana after five minutes in silence will only cause you more stress. It will also deter you from wanting to engage in mindfulness practices. The reality is that you can meditate, journal, or engage in breath work every single day.
You don’t have to carve out an hour out of your day to practice mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness is literally the art of taking each moment as it comes. Perhaps you have a goal to be more present, slow down, or reduce stress. Fit the following mindfulness practices into your day to help feel more balanced. A calmer, more present awareness is just a few minutes away. Continue reading to learn how to do these practices.
Going through a stressful time? You may notice that your breathing has been compromised. Stress causes your breath to be more shallow, which creates more stress. When you are calm, your breathing involves deep belly breaths. You don’t even have to think about your breathing because of how natural it feels. Practicing diaphragmatic breathing can teach your body to cultivate relaxed breaths. You can even do it in traffic!
- Find a comfortable area to sit up straight or lie flat on your back. Make sure you are fully supported and not fidgeting.
- Place both of your hands below your ribcage. As you inhale, inflate your belly so that your hands rise. Keep your chest still and in a neutral position.
- As you exhale, engage your abdominals to get all of the air out of your belly as it collapses.
- Continue this breath work for three to five minutes.
Meditation is intimidating if you don’t know where to start. You cannot meditate wrong, which is the first thing you need to know. You don’t have to light candles or incense, have 120 pillows, or play tranquil music in a designated space. Meditation is truly about setting aside time to be with yourself, and the mental and physical benefits are wonderful. This practice has been proven to improve self-love and kindness towards others.
- Find a comfortable meditation position, be it sitting up straight or lying down. You can even sit back in your recliner chair!
- Close your eyes if you want and direct all of your attention to the present moment. Do your best to set distractions to the side, but welcome random thoughts. Let them wash in and out like waves on the sand.
- For every inhale, you can say to yourself, “I am,” and finish the statement on each exhale with, “here now.” Continue this practice for five to 10 minutes. You can also practice guided meditation if that is easier.
Some things are completely out of your control, but you can control the way you speak to yourself. According to studies, talking to yourself in a positive way can help reduce anxiety. Researchers proved that talking to yourself in the third person aids emotional regulation. You can be hard on yourself, but don’t talk about yourself negatively.
- Memorize a few affirmations that can benefit you during stressful times: I am balanced and centered. I release what I cannot control. I choose to be at peace.
- When you find a free mental moment, repeat these affirmations to yourself.
- You can elevate this practice by writing the affirmations down and placing them throughout your home.
If you overthink things, visualization is the perfect practice for you. This practice uses the power of your mind for positive change. The mind does not know the difference between what you imagine and what’s real. Through visualization, you can teach your brain how to approach future situations before they happen.
- Find a quiet place to sit or lie down and close your eyes.
- Think about an upcoming event that you’re either dreading or stressed about.
- Imagine the best case scenario or outcome at this event. How do you feel about it and how do you want it to unfold? Use your imagination to make it real.
- Run into a negative situation during this visualization? Simply start over and repeat the scenario until it goes the way you want it to go.
This practice doesn’t have to result in an incredible novel or short story; rather, journaling is a practice to empty your thoughts onto the page. There are many things that easily trigger stress, but you aren’t doing yourself any favors if you continue to hold onto those feelings. Writing about events can make you emotionally stronger and less upset, so vomit those words onto the page without any direction!
- Set aside some time to journal without any interruptions. Play music or light a candle if this helps set the scene.
- Let your pen do the work and don’t worry about proper grammar. Just let your pen flow!