5 Mindfulness Tips to Manage Chronic Stress
Stress is a daily component of our busy lives. While stress can certainly ebb and flow between days, mismanaged stress can build up into a chronic condition. Chronic stress in your life can leave you feeling overwhelmed, run down, and burnt out. Over time, it can take a toll on the body leading to increased risk of hypertension, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and weight gain. Studies have shown the benefits of breaking up the daily stresses of life with mindful practices, such as meditations. People who regularly practice mindfulness or meditation, even for just 10 minutes, are more creative and resilient and have better physical health. Try these 5 practices to incorporate mindfulness into your day, wherever you are.
1. Body Scan
Close your eyes. Focus inward on the feeling of your body, and slow your breathing. Slowly and deliberately tense your feet and toes, and then relax them. Slowly and purposefully tense and relax each muscle group, from your feet to your legs to your torso, continuing up your body until you have released the built-up tension and stress from your muscles.
2. Office Meditation
Find a quiet place to sit for 5 minutes. Close your eyes, and focus on the feeling of breathing in and out. Choose a mantra or intention for the day (e.g. “I will be strong, I will be calm, I will be at peace”), and repeat it silently to yourself while you continue to deepen and slow your breathing for these 5 intentional minutes.
3. Deep Breathing
Set a timer for 5 minutes. Sit quietly, eyes closed, and focus on slowing your breathing. Have each breath in fill your lungs and extend into your belly. Exhale slowly, allowing time for all the air to leave your lungs. Focus on the feeling of each breath becoming slower and deeper. While you breathe, passively acknowledge each thought that enters your head, and let it pass by without judgment.
4. Walking Meditation
Incorporate a walk into your day. Spend 5-10 minutes of walking slowly and paying attention to the feeling of your breathing, your gait, and your stride. Pay attention to the feeling of your feet keeping balance. Tune into the feeling of your body’s movement as you walk and clear your mind.
5. Guided Apps
Free apps like Headspace, Calm, or The Mindfulness App can guide you through different mindfulness and meditation practices. In addition to longer meditations, most apps offer short 3-10 minute meditations and mindfulness exercises to fit into your busy schedule. Set a reminder during your workday to put on your headphones and take a break for stress relief.
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