Funnily enough I am exposed to stressors everyday, much like you I suspect. Actually, scrap that first sentence. Who ins't exposed to stressors everyday? Its not like we are all constantly on holiday and the most stressful thing is waving the poor, aging Balinese away from massaging our feet on the beach as we sip fresh coconut water (or bin tang). If you are, you lucky thing!
Point in fact, we can allow our everyday life challenges to overcome us like a wave swallows us at the beach ripping our bathers from our body, leaving us exposed and vulnerable OR we can practice Mindfulness...
Its a term thrown around a lot these days but what does it really mean? More importantly, how can we apply it to help us deal with these waves that consume our emotions and essentially our behaviours?
Glad you asked (oh wait, you didn't... hhhhmm maybe subconscious you did- you're reading this right?) Well, keep reading as below I have 5 red hot tips for practicing Mindfulness that you can start applying now. With a little conscious effort you will start feeling a little less reactive, a little less stressed and foster better relationships with loved ones.
#1 Breathe- there is good reason this is number one.
Breathing allows the oxygen filled blood to flow to your brain. Deep breathing through our nasal passages activates the parasympathetic nervous system that creates relaxation. Breath is fundamental to human existence and it helps to focus our attention on body and mind.
Stop all that you are doing, right now! Find a comfortable position, sitting ideally, slowly exhale all the oxygen from your lungs. Focus in on what you are doing.
Inhale, deep and slow through your nose, counting s l o w l y to four. Filling your lungs with air until you can't inhale anymore. Your tummy will lift into your rib cage, expanding your lungs.
S l o w l y count to four as you hold your breath.
Exhale to the s l o w count of four, allowing all air to expel from your lungs. Sometimes it helps to make a hhhhuuuuuuuhhhhh noise as you do this and exert the waste air.
Again, hold your breath for another 4 seconds before repeating. When you feel calmer, get on with your day,more mindful and do this whenever you feel like you gonna lose your shizzle!
#2 5 4 3 2 1 Exercise -This is a great exercise to try when overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety and panic of impending to do list. It grounds you in the now and allows you to focus, regaining control of racing thoughts.
It is great to say them out loud, however writing them down will work too.
Say or write 5 things you can see right now in your immediate surroundings.
Say or write 4 things you can hear.
Say or write 3 things you can feel- this can be clothes, desk, or inanimate object
Say or write 2 things you can smell.
Finally, say or write 1 thing you can taste. This could be your stale chewy, the nuts you ate earlier or the mineral taste from biting your tongue.
#3 Journal- writing down our thoughts allow them to come into awareness rather than racing thoughts in our heads.
Create a routine whereby you write your racing thoughts and allow time for introspection and growth, allowing you to understand your thoughts more clearly.
People struggling with depression and anxiety can help you gain control of emotions (when you see them as words) and improve mental health.
By creating and writing in a journal, it will bring you into a state of mindfulness as you write the thoughts onto paper. Any frustrations that are in the past or future concerns appear to lose their edge as you put pen to paper. Actively engaging in your thoughts, your disengage the wandering mind.
Buy paper and pen
Write that shit down
Reflect, grow and be aware of what these thoughts are, just thoughts.
#4 Walk it off- A walk in Nature will NEVER disappoint. When have you gone for a walk among epic pines trees, gum's that are flowering or a beach walk where the salt air whips your face like a cold slap?
Ok, well the last one doesn't sound so appealing but I am almost certain that when you have done any of the above, you actually return feeling rejuvenated and a m a z i n g !!
Walking in Nature not only releases serotonin, our feel good hormone but we expose ourselves to the array of tree chemicals (aka Phytoncides) that act as anti-oxidants, protecting the trees from harmful disease. When you breath in the smell of the forest, this is what you are essentially breathing in! Cool huh?!
Go for a bush walk. Take your shoes off and feel the connection with the earth. You will also benefit from absorbing vitamins and minerals this way, however if this is too hippy shit for you, try a simple walk, surrounded by trees and try the #2 exercise!
Alternatively, book a guided mindfulness hike and I'll show you how! (yep, cheap plug)
#5 Apps- Ok, so as I say to my girls, "there is a time and a place for everything". This also applies to you, my 'inner most thoughts on paper' journal readers. As a business that promotes disconnection from technology, I rarely will tell you to jump onto the latest app or techno site for Mindfulness apps, HOWEVER, this is the exception to the rule.
Apps such as Smiling Mind, Headspace, Calm and Buddhify are all complementary to our "busy"lifestyles and can be used in conjunction with the above practices. They are great for on the go mindfulness and relaxation.
The benefits of these apps is that you can practice wherever, whenever and in today's society, i recognise this is essential. So, for this reason I myself use these apps along with another I believe is only on android, Ambiance. This App is essentially noise.
Yep, noise. Pick what you want; Tibetan singing bowls, om, birds chirping. Pick the decibel and off you go. They even have dedicated decibel settings to ease tension, headaches, anxiety and more..
What's more interesting in the insight you gain from becoming more mindful, more aware, more present. Your emotions don't have to rule you. You dont have to be so reactive then guilt ridden later. You can improve this, only you.
So what will you do? Next time you are feeling overwhelmed? Drowned out?