Welcome. This is the second article in a new series on stress which aims to give you simple ideas for managing stress. Each article contains an idea to manage stress, a short explanation why it is helpful in managing stress and an exercise based on the idea. Then it is up to you to try it out over the week. To get the most out of this series, write down how each exercise is working for you in managing your stress.
Stress Reducing Ideas – Idea 1 – Cultivating Gratitude Last week I introduced the idea of becoming more grateful to make you feel happier and less stressed. I hope this was helpful for those who tried the exercise over the week.
This week’s idea is Becoming Mindful
There is a body of psychological research that has found a strong relationship between becoming more mindful and reducing stress levels. The practice is called Mindfulness, which is cultivating a focused awareness on the present moment. There are many reasons why Mindfulness reduces stress. I will briefly mention three reasons why you might be interested in becoming more mindful to reduce your stress.
- Mindfulness allows your mind to be instead of do. Encouraging your mind to be in “being mode” is associated with relaxation, whilst “doing mode” is associated with action and the stress response.
- Mindfulness focuses on the present so you are not fixated on experiences of the past or worries of the future. This allows you to see your present stressors more clearly as well as the solutions. You will be able to think more clearly and therefore be able to make choices more easily.
- Becoming more mindful will mean you are better able to focus. You will have more efficiency at work and you are more likely to get into the “zone” as you are focussed on the task at hand. This will likely lead to having a greater sense of well-being, subsequently reducing your stress.
Exercise on Becoming more mindful
Take a walk. A short walk. This walk is not to go anywhere or to go and do anything. This walk is to just walk. Take the walk alone, preferably without your mobile or bag to weigh you down. This walk is to be taken without judgement. If you notice you are caught up with your thoughts, allow yourself this time to think just about what is around you. It doesn’t have to be long or far. Just 5 minutes. When you are walking notice what is around you. Look up, look to the side, look down, look all around. You might take your walk on a route you do every day. You might notice something you have never noticed before. Become present. Breathe. Breathe in the air, the smells. Notice what you can smell and what you can hear. You might want to think about how your body feels walking. Notice your steps and how it feels to walk. How your feet feel on the ground. Notice how fast are you walking. There is no right or wrong way to take this walk. So go as fast or as slow as you want and feel comfortable. Try this walk today and each day this week and allow yourself the time to be more mindful.
Hopefully this is a helpful introduction to becoming more mindful. Mindfulness is a practice and there are many courses available. If you are interested in becoming more mindful you can read further and look at courses bemindful.co.uk
If you have enjoyed reading this article please like and share. I will introduce you to another stress managing idea next week. Until then have a good one.
Thank you to Luke Bennett Photography for this week’s feature image.