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Practicing Mindfulness Can Help Ease Stress

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Mindfulness has many benefits to our daily lives in this stressful and fast-paced modern world.

Being mindful can help us be more present and connected to the present moment, instead of dwelling in our stressful and anxious thoughts. We can allow our thoughts to flow without judgement, and release them.

These are the basics of a mindfulness practice. You can do this for only minutes a day, and gradually expand mindfulness to more areas of your life.

Benefits of Mindfulness

When you practice mindfulness, it can benefit your physical and mental health. This includes reducing your general stress level throughout the day.

According to Help Guide,

Mindfulness improves physical health. If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered that mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can: help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, , improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties. Mindfulness improves mental health. In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including: depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. These numerous benefits to Mindfulness are all great reasons to begin a practice today.

Practicing Mindfulness

You don’t need any equipment to practice mindfulness, all you need is yourself. It is helpful if you first begin your practice in a quiet place.

Personally, I have found that the outdoors or somewhere in nature are good places for me to practice mindfulness.

According to Mindful,

While mindfulness might seem simple, it’s not necessarily all that easy. The real work is to make time every day to just keep doing it. Here’s a short practice to get you started: Take a seat. Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you. Set a time limit. If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as 5 or 10 minutes. Notice your body. You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, in lotus posture, you can kneel — all are fine. Just make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while. Feel your breath. Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes out and as it goes in. Notice when your mind has wandered. Inevitably, your attention will leave the sensations of the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing this — in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes — simply return your attention to the breath. Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back. That’s it! That’s the practice. You go away, you come back, and you try to do it as kindly as possible.

When you are being mindful, focusing on the breath helps you feel centered within your body.

To make yourself present in the moment, you can notice the sensations within your body, and things within your environment. Notice your in and out breaths. Notice the wind in the trees, and the feel of the air on your skin. Observe if there are sounds in the environment, like birds singing.

Being aware of all the sensations within and around you grounds you in the present moment.

The second part of mindfulness is non-judgement. According to the Harvard Stress Development Lab,

Another key aspect of mindfulness involves acceptance and non-judgement of our present moment experiences. This includes accepting our thoughts and feelings — whether positive or negative — and immersing ourselves in the present moment without evaluating it.

When your thoughts come, you simply notice them and let them pass, without categorizing them as good or bad.

This allows you to create space between yourself and your thoughts. You are not your thoughts, you are the watcher of your thoughts.

Knowing that your thoughts are separate from yourself allows you to detach from them. For example, if thoughts are causing you anxiety or stress, by knowing that they aren’t YOU, it allows you to release some of your stress.

Once you begin to practice mindfulness, you will start to experience a sensation or quietness, peace and lightness.

According to Mindful here is a summary of the mindfulness process:

Mindfulness helps us put some space between ourselves and our reactions, breaking down our conditioned responses. Here’s how to tune into mindfulness throughout the day:

Set aside some time. You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, or any sort of special equipment to access your mindfulness skills — but you do need to set aside some time and space. Observe the present moment as it is. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgment. Easier said than done, we know. Let your judgments roll by. When we notice judgments arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass. Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment. Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back. That’s the practice. It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will accrue.

Mindfulness has helped me to feel more connected and peaceful in my own life. I hope that it can have the same effect for you!

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