Stress is a normal part of life but it is something you can control. Use these mindfulness technique to help cope with stress.
Every one of us, whether old or young, large or small, lofty thinkers or practical doers, faces stress on a daily basis. Even the most seasoned meditator and peaceful yogi will encounter this unavoidable aspect of the human condition.
It’s unavoidable, and it brings with it a slew of unpleasant and distracting symptoms. Stress is more than just a feeling or a mental state; if not addressed, it pervades every aspect of your life.
When you’re having a stressful day, consider using these 5 mindfulness techniques to reduce the impact of stress on your health.
What is Stress?
Stress is ingrained in American culture. We are more stressed as a society than ever before. Our society is most concerned about the future of the country, finances, and jobs, according to the American Institute of Stress. This constant stress can be harmful to your health and well-being.
Excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy food choices, a lack of exercise, or smoking are all common ways people cope with stress. These options are only temporary and will not help you cope with stress in the long run. Mindfulness is the most effective way to deal with stress. Mindfulness is a way of thinking that emphasizes accepting stressful feelings for what they are.
Are There Any Studies Relating to Stress?
According to a growing body of research, mindful people are happier and less stressed. We have no idea why this happens. One possible explanation is that mindful people cope better with life’s challenges and are more adaptable in their approaches to problems. As a result, their health and well-being may improve.
To see if this was true, researchers at the University of Connecticut asked 157 undergraduate students to complete an online mindfulness questionnaire at the start of the school year. Students completed a daily online questionnaire at the end of each day for seven days the following month.
A list of 17 potential stressors was included in the daily survey. Students indicated which stressors they had encountered that day, then rated which event was the “worst or most bothersome.” They were then asked about the “worst” event of the day, such as how stressful it was and how much control they felt they had. They were then given a list of possible coping strategies, such as acceptance, positive reappraisal, self-blame, or giving up, and asked which one they had used to deal with their “worst” stressor of the day. Finally, they rated their mood on a scale of inspired, active, determined, afraid, upset, or ashamed.
How Does Mindfulness Help you Deal With Stress?
According to the findings, people who rated themselves as more mindful rated their experiences as less stressful and were less likely to fall into a negative mood when faced with difficulties.
This suggests that being aware of one’s immediate surroundings may influence how stressful it is perceived to be, acting as a buffer against negative emotions such as shame, anxiety, or fear. Notably, the current study discovered that people who were more mindful did not necessarily feel more positive. They simply felt less pessimistic.
More mindful people reported using less self-blame and being better able to accept situations they couldn’t change in terms of coping. The authors contend that mindfulness “predisposes individuals to use acceptance coping versus problem-focused coping in relatively uncontrollable situations, with greater increases in problem-focused approaches when a stressor is appraised as more controllable.”
In other words, mindful people strive to solve problems when possible but are more likely to accept circumstances they cannot change.
In general, the study’s findings suggest that being aware of life’s ups and downs and how much we can control them may increase our resilience to stress.
This, in turn, may lead to more deliberate and adaptable coping strategies, preventing us from becoming stuck in negative mood states.
5 Mindfulness Techniques to Help Cope With Stress
Here are some mindfulness techniques you can use to cope up with stress. Of course, if you think that your stress is more than enough for you to handle, please consult with a doctor so they can help provide what’s best for your situation.
Perform a Visual Body Scan.
Body scanning is the process of observing your body’s sensations.
It slows your thoughts while increasing your awareness of your body. This can result in an increase in your energy and focus.
A body scan can last as little or as long as you want. It all begins with closing your eyes and settling into a sitting or laying down position.
Bring your attention back to the expansion and contraction of your lungs’ breath. Once you’re at ease, focus on one specific part of your body. You could, for example, begin with your toes.
Take note of any sensations in this part of your body. Do you have any sensations such as clothing, temperature, pain, or warmth? Simply be aware of and acknowledge your feelings. Spend a few moments noticing, then move to another part of your body after a minute.
Continue doing this until you’ve covered your entire body. Then, visualize calm energy coursing through you. You can imagine it as a glowing light, a warm liquid, or whatever image you have of calmness.
You can begin to come out of the meditation once you’ve visualized calmness coursing through your body. You may be surprised at how at ease you feel.
You can always listen to or read a recorded version if you have trouble guiding yourself through a session like this.
Play Guided Meditations.
One type of meditation is body scanning.
There are numerous other free meditations available online that use techniques such as breathwork, awareness, imagining, and relaxing to nature sounds.
The best thing about these resources is that there is something for everyone. You can meditate for as little as 5 minutes or as long as you want.
A narrator will usually gently suggest different ways to focus your attention, breath, and thoughts during a guided meditation. The end result is a more relaxed state of mind and less stress.
There is also evidence that meditation improves job performance. It has the potential to increase people’s engagement and satisfaction with their work.
Use Your Senses.
Allow yourself at least five minutes to unwind when you begin to notice physical symptoms of stress, such as increased blood pressure or digestive issues.
You can concentrate on your five senses during these five minutes.
Concentrate on your hearing, smell, sight, taste, and touch for one minute at a time. Take in everything you can without passing judgment or criticism.
It is normal for your thoughts to wander during this process. When you notice this happening, gently redirect your attention to the sensations you’re experiencing.
This practice brings you back to the present moment while distancing you from stressful thought patterns. These tasks do not require you to get out of bed or leave your desk; they are always available.
If you have a disability that affects any of your senses, you can still complete this exercise to the best of your ability.
Create a Gratitude List
When you are under stress, your body produces a hormone known as cortisol. It’s your body’s biological reaction to a life-or-death situation.
The majority of people’s stress, on the other hand, isn’t life or death. However, the body does not always distinguish between the two, resulting in high levels of stress hormones that affect your heart rate, immune system, and digestion.
Get out a piece of paper and a pen to help you deal with day-to-day stress. Begin keeping a gratitude journal.
The goal is to find as many things to be grateful for as possible, no matter how big or small the thing is. You could be thankful for a friend, a sunny day, or food.
While you’re doing this, you’re lowering your elevated cortisol levels. According to some studies, expressing gratitude can reduce stress hormones by 23% while increasing “feel good” neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.
Alter Your Environment.
When and if possible, try to change your environment when you are stressed. This could include going on a trip, exploring nature, or simply sitting outside in the sun.
It has been proven that spending time in nature reduces psychological stress. It is not necessary to exercise or do anything; simply being outside has therapeutic benefits. Just make sure your phone is set to silent.
In some cases, doing daily mindfulness practices or going outside will not suffice to alleviate stress. If this is the case, identify the source of your stress and seek help to change your environment.
This could imply changing the people you spend time with or leaving a job with inequitable working conditions. If your job is causing you excessive stress, try to find someone you can talk to about it and who can help you review your employee rights.
It may be a difficult adjustment, but you deserve to live a stress-free life for your mental and physical health.
Stress is an inevitable part of life. In small doses, stress can be beneficial. Consider a job interview. The anxiety and stress of the interview can motivate you to perform better. Stress can save your life in more dangerous or urgent situations by activating your flight-or-fight response.
Long-term stress, on the other hand, can be harmful. Chronic stress can interfere with your sleep, immune system, digestion, and emotional stability. Almost 77% of people have physical symptoms such as digestive problems, a weakened immune system, and irregular sleeping patterns. While 73% of the population suffers from psychological symptoms such as emotional instability.
When you use harmful stress relievers like alcohol or smoking for an extended period of time, there can be negative consequences. According to research, turning to alcohol or smoking to cope with stress accounts for 45% of all cancer deaths. Furthermore, 42% of cancer patients may have developed their disease as a result of these harmful vices.
More healthcare providers are turning to mindfulness to help their patients cope with stress as we learn more about the effects of stress on the body. Mindfulness is a mental practice that allows you to accept current circumstances and control your reactions more effectively.
To practice mindfulness, no special equipment is required. It is recommended that you set aside sometime each day to practice mindfulness. Allow your mind to rest by sitting in a comfortable position. Try not to think about anything specific, but instead pay attention to any strong feelings or thoughts that arise. Allow the strong emotions to pass and return your attention to the present moment.
Many people believe that mindfulness entails having your mind completely blank. That, however, is not the goal. The goal of mindfulness is to pay attention to your thoughts and how they affect you.
Changing Unhealthy Habits
It can take time to transition from unhealthy to healthy stress coping mechanisms. Begin small and surround yourself with people who will encourage your new healthy behaviors. Instead of pouring yourself a drink after work, take a walk around the block. It will help you clear your mind of the stresses of the day and improve your physical fitness.
Mindfulness practice and habit change can help you live a happier and healthier life.
When you’re having a stressful day, give yourself a little bit of time to do some mindfulness practices. This will help you cope while preserving your mental and physical health.
Keep in mind that this applies to stress that’s within your control. If you’re experiencing unfair working conditions, consider finding a new job that is better for your well-being.