Practicing Mindfulness to Relieve Stress
Mindfulness is a special way of paying attention that can help you better cope with life’s stresses. Whether you’re dealing with the stress of caregiving or the stress of grief after losing a loved one, practicing mindfulness may help you feel calmer and more stable. Studies have shown mindfulness can help with stress, anxiety and depression.
Many mindfulness techniques involve a focus on breathing and paying attention to develop a greater awareness in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness doesn’t require a large time commitment or special equipment.
Credit: Lee Haywood via Flickr
Try this simple mindful breathing exercise that can be done in as little as five minutes.
- Sit comfortably in a quiet place with your eyes closed and your spine fairly straight.
- Direct your attention to your breathing, trying to breathe through your belly, noticing it rising and falling.
- As thoughts, emotions, physical sensations or sounds arise, simply accept them. Allow them to come and go without judgement.
- If your mind wanders from your breathing, notice what took your attention away, then come back to your breathing. Accept the feelings without dwelling on them. Notice how your body reacts to disrupting thoughts—does it affect your posture? Do you feel tense?
- You may choose to repeat a word or phrase to keep you in the moment. It can be a word like “relax,” “forgiveness” or “calm.” It can be a phrase like “May I be happy.”
The goal is to become more in touch with life, your mind and body. If you have a distressing thought, don’t avoid it. Rather, try to observe it clearly and dispassionately, as if from a distance.
Practicing exercises like this can give you a deeper perspective on your stressors so they are not so overwhelming—it can help free you from being captive to the past or future, to worries and fears.
“Mindfulness meditation doesn’t change life. Life remains as fragile and unpredictable as ever. Meditation changes the heart’s capacity to accept life as it is.”
Want to learn how mindfulness can help you cope with grief? Join the two-part Mindfulness Workshop hosted by the Counseling and Education Center on Thursdays, August 4 and 18. Participants will learn a few simple techniques designed to enhance their sense of well-being. Learn more at https://www.hospicegso.org/mindfulness-workshop/.