4 Simple Mindful Ways to Reduce Stress
While a certain amount of stress may be productive because it pushes us to reach our goals, ongoing or excessive stress can hold us back and harm our health. According to the American Institute of Stress, 73 percent of people in the United States regularly experience mental and emotional symptoms caused by stress, such as moodiness, anxiety, depression, irritability, aggression, etc. At the same time, 77 percent of survey participants often experience physical symptoms of stress including low energy, insomnia, low libido, aches, and pains, etc. But stress is not simply a feeling; if you neglect it, it affects every aspect of your life.
However, the good news is that we have a wide variety of tools to cope with stress available today. Among the most effective methods for reducing stress are mindfulness meditation practices.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness represents our ability to focus and be fully present in the existing moment, without interpreting end self-judging own emotions and thoughts.
Research shows that mindfulness exercises can alleviate stress-related symptoms and promote relaxation. Mindfulness has proven to be a powerful method for reducing stress because it can improve our mood, boost our resilience and improve our memory and focus. Also, practiced through meditation, mindfulness can help us become aware of our self-critical thoughts that often trigger a stress response.
What is more, research indicates that regular mindfulness exercise can reduce activity in part the brain’s stress response center amygdala, consequently decreasing the background level of stress.
Mindful Ways to Reduce Stress
Common mindfulness exercises are most commonly practiced through meditation. However, mindfulness ways to reduce stress may also include mindful breathing, mindful physical activity, yoga, or mindful body scan.
1. Mindful Breathing
Mindful breathing is one of the simplest exercises to reduce stress. When we experience stress, our breathing patterns change. When we feel anxious, we usually take small, shallow breaths, using our shoulders rather than the diaphragm.
Mindful breathing can help you relax and relieve tension. To relieve stress, you can try some of deep breathing techniques such as progressive relaxation, abdominal breathing, and guided visualization.
2. Mindful Exercise and Yoga
When you are engaging in any other form of physical activity, pay attention to your movements, breathing, and your surroundings. You can also practice mindfulness integrated into regular yoga practice can boost your awareness and increase mental clarity.
3. Body Scan
During this exercise, comfortably sit or lie down. You gradually focus your attention on one body part at a time, noticing sensations without interpreting or reacting to them.
4. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a flexible approach to stress-reduction. MBSR is an evidence-based group program that was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 1970s to help patients struggling with mental illness and life challenges. It comprises two main components: mindfulness meditation and yoga.
MBSR is an eight-week individualized approach that is often different for every person. However, the mindfulness-based stress reduction approach is always based on the same set of principles. When integrated into existing medical and/or psychological treatment, MBSR has proven to effectively increase the results of the treatment of anxiety and panic attacks, fatigue, depression, eating disorders, sleep problems, family, work, and financial stress, and many other conditions