Practicing mindfulness has helped me massively over the last year or so and today, I’m going to tell you how it can help you too!
Over the year or so, I’ve tried quite hard to reduce stress from my life – mainly because there have been times recently when my stress levels have been so high that I genuinely could have crumbled. That sounds super dramatic I know but there’s been so much going on in my life and I’ve had so much on my mind at times that I needed to find a way to help me to handle it all and practicing mindfulness has helped me with some of it.
I used to think mindfulness was just another one of those buzz words that people who were trying to be trendy used but when I was reading up on it, I realised that it’s really just a fancy way of saying that someone is focussing more on the world there and then. It’s about taking the time to pay more attention to what you’re doing at that very moment and the world around you at that time rather than rushing about focusing on something that’s happened or something that’s going to happen.
Does that make sense at all?
My drive to and from work is a typical example of how I use mindfulness to reduce my stress. On the way to work, I used to switch from parent mode to work mode and would spend the drive thinking about everything I need to achieve that day and replaying anything from the day before that was playing on my mind. The drive home would be spent thinking about what I should have done that day, what I needed to do the next day and figuring out a plan of action so I could hit the ground running the next day.
None of that was something that I consciously planned to think about, I didn’t get in the car thinking that I was going to stress over work of plan my day but it just happened because in my head, the drive to and from work was work time and my brain naturally wanted to plan or think about it rather than switch off.
But that wasn’t ideal for many reasons, least of all because playing something over in my head seemed to magnify the feelings I was having about it – so if I was stressed about getting an assignment for my degree in on time, I’d worry about not only how I was going to do it and the consequences of not doing it but also about what I was going to put in it and how long it was going to take me.
By forcing my mind not to think about whatever was stressing me out at the time and focus on the now, I stopped the cycle of focusing on work in the car on my drive and now, as odd as it may sound, I love the 25 minute drive as it’s a relaxing time for me.
So now I’ve told you one of the ways that practicing mindfulness has helped me, I wanted to share a few tips on how you can use it to reduce stress in your life. Honestly, it’s amazing what a little change in mindset can do to revolutionize your life.
How to Gain Control of your Mind
Practicing the four steps to mindfulness in a stressful moment will allow you to retrain your brain. The basics to reducing stress by the art of mindfulness come down to one thing – gaining control of your mind. When ware able to use the STOP method to bring our mind back to a peaceful state, we are better able to reduce and minimize stress as a whole. When you practice the STOP method I share below, you will quickly find that each stressful moment in your life gets easier because you’ve mastered the art of mindfulness.
The Four Steps to Mindfulness in a Stressful Moment
I’m not going to lie to you, mindfulness doesn’t come naturally to many people (myself included) so it definitely takes practice and you need to not get frustrated and almost give up because your mind keeps wandering like I did! You need to traihn yourself to do each of the four steps listed below:
- Stop what you’re doing and close your eyes.
- Take a few moments to breathe and become aware of each inhale and exhale.
- Observe how you feel, what emotions have overwhelmed you at this moment. Acknowledge your emotions and then bring yourself back to the present.
- Once you’ve dealt with your emotions then focus on the here and now by listening to the sounds around you and taking them in as they are without trying to evaluate them.
How the Four Steps to Mindfulness Can Help You
Heres the theory behind the four steps above…
When you stop and close your eyes, you’re taking control of your moment. This allows the stressful encounter to disappear from your vision so that you can pause from this moment in time. Making sure you immediately stop and close your eyes will place you in a completely different mindset right away.
Taking a few moments for deep breathing will assist in calming down your nerves, anger or whatever extreme emotion you may be feeling at this moment. Stress can make our emotions go wonky and we can feel extremely sensitive and emotional at this moment, deep breathing calms that feeling.
After stopping to close your eyes and deep breathing for a moment, you will be able to analyse and observe how you’re truly feeling at this moment. Don’t ignore your feelings – you can acknowledge them and understand that they’re not permanent and then gently bring yourself back to the present. The idea is that
The final step of mindfulness allows you to take a moment and listen to the sounds around you so that your mind focuses elsewhere. Listen to the sound of your ceiling fan, the appliances, whatever is making a small noise around you. That patter of noise will keep you calmer.
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