Mindfulness is an important and valuable tool for managing stress because it helps to bring your attention to the present moment, and to develop a non-judgmental awareness of your thoughts and feelings.
When you practice mindfulness, you are training your mind to be more present and focused, which can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
Why mindfulness is effective for managing stress
- It helps to reduce rumination: Rumination is the act of dwelling on negative thoughts or experiences. Mindfulness can help you to become more aware of these thoughts and to let them go, instead of getting caught up in them.
- It promotes relaxation: Mindfulness can help to reduce the physiological effects of stress on your body, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, by promoting relaxation.
- It improves emotional regulation: By becoming more aware of your thoughts and emotions, you can learn to regulate them more effectively, which can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
- It promotes resilience: By developing a regular mindfulness practice, you can build resilience and develop a greater sense of inner strength, which can help you to better cope with stress and difficult situations.
7 steps using mindfulness to manage stress
1. Start with breathing
Focus on your breath, inhale, and exhale slowly. Bring your attention to the sensation of the breath moving in and out of your body. For added benefit, whilst breathing in and out, put your hand on your chest. With your hand, feel the movement of your breath, and the rhythmic beats of your heart. This is a grounding technique and has incredible and immediate calming effects.
2. Observe your thoughts
Notice any thoughts that arise in your mind without judging them, let them come and go without engaging in them.
3. Accept your emotions
Allow yourself to feel any emotions that come up, without trying to change or suppress them.
4. Practice body awareness
Focus on your body, noticing any areas of tension or discomfort. Try to release that tension by relaxing your muscles.
5. Engage your senses
Use your senses to bring yourself into the present moment, for example, noticing the sights, sounds, and smells around you.
6. Stay present
Whenever you notice your mind wandering, bring your attention back to the present moment. This can be done by either thinking or saying silently to yourself “thinking”, or “wandering”.
7. Practice regularly
Like anything, practice makes better. So, try make mindfulness a daily habit. You can practice it through meditation, yoga, or simply being mindful during everyday activities, like going for a walk, making, and enjoying your first cup of coffee for the day, or even whilst preparing food or cooking. You don’t have to go “out of your way” to practice mindfulness, but instead incorporate it into your everyday usual activities.
By practicing mindfulness, you can learn to manage stress in a healthier and constructive way, by cultivating a sense of calm and balance.