3 Simple Ways to Counter Stress with Mindfulness
Do you ever find yourself running on autopilot? When is the last time you checked-in, took a deep breath, and focused on the task at hand, not the growing to-do list? Due in part to recent studies linking mindfulness to increased cognitive functionality and stress reduction, more and more tools are available to stay mindful at work.
According to research from the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, the benefits of cultivating a mindfulness practice are plentiful. At the institute, patients and care teams are taught mindfulness techniques to reduce the physical and emotional impact of stress. Their studies revealed mindfulness as a complementary, healthy way to cope with stress and:
- Counter Insomnia/Fatigue
- Gastrointestinal Disorders
- Headaches and Migraines
- Reduce Anxiety
What is Mindfulness?
Regardless of age, or physical fitness, practicing being in the present moment has the ability to buffer stress and build resiliency. In addition to eating healthy, exercising regularly and getting plenty of sleep, add these mindfulness tips to increase overall health:
Step 1: Take Deep Breaths: Developing the ability to relax begins with being in the present moment. Without judgment, asses your physical and emotional well-being. How does your body feel? Are there aches and pains you were not aware of before? Is your heart racing? Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4 seconds, hold for 1 second, and exhale out of your mouth for 5 seconds. Repeat as often as you need to slow heart rate and relax muscles.
Step 2: Pay Attention to Your Thoughts: While you’re sending emails, take note of your thoughts, are you in the present moment or are you mulling over something that happened in the past? Maybe you’re thinking about the future. While you’re working on a task, if you find your mind racing, gently bring your focus back to the task at hand.
Step 3: Take a Hike: A stroll through the park, even a walk around the block for a moment to yourself can help to calm thoughts and worries. Walking has been linked to reducing the stress hormone, lowering blood pressure, and improving feelings of wellbeing. Spend time appreciating nature, and allow your newfound relaxation response to be an accomplishment!
For more information, the Benson-Henry Institute provides guided mindfulness meditations for patients and care teams, as well, check out meditation, yoga, or mindfulness classes in your community.