Stress can easily creep into your daily life and having tools and strategies to manage it can be extremely helpful. Everyone experiences some kind of stress, whether it’s big or small. However, a buildup of stress isn’t healthy for anyone.

Luckily, whether your stress is caused by everyday activities, or your work or social life, mindfulness exercises can bring focus to the moment and improve your awareness of negative thoughts and tension. Practicing mindfulness may not come naturally to everyone. The more you practice and utilize these skills, though, the less stress will have a negative effect on you. Remember, mindfulness doesn’t have to be long or intensive, and even simple exercises like observing the things around you can help ease your symptoms.

How Does Mindfulness Help Relieve Stress?

In addition to producing physical symptoms like racing heartbeat, headache, stomachache, clamminess, changes in appetite, and muscle tension, constant stress can also affect your ability to focus, sleep, and make clear decisions. Stress can play a factor in the development of psychiatric conditions like depression or anxiety disorders as well. Worryingly thinking about your daily stressors or a topic that is creating turmoil is called rumination, and it’s something we all have experienced. Mindfulness, though, can help you break the cycle of harmful rumination and find a more balanced mindset.

Helpful Stress Prevention Tips

Taking care of yourself can also play a big factor in your stress level and overall health. Check out these easy ways to practice self-care:

  • Get enough sleep. The CDC recommends that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Eat healthy. Nutrition greatly affects energy production. Additives can negatively impact energy levels.
  • Drink water. Dehydration can make your body feel sluggish and function slower than normal. Stick to the recommended daily water intake of eight 8-ounce glasses.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercising releases endorphins that can provide a hearty boost to your mood.

Mindfulness Exercises

Ready to try it out? Check out these mindfulness exercises you can do anywhere, anytime!

Mindful Breathing

Focus on your breathing in and out of your nose, counting as you inhale and exhale. Exhale longer than you inhale, so if you breathe in for 5 seconds, try to breathe out for 6 seconds. Pay attention to the rise and fall of your chest, and keep your breaths steady. Let your mind slip away from harmful thoughts and focus fully on your breathing.

Mindful Observation

Focus on your surroundings. Take time to notice the things around you using all your senses. If you have a plant at your desk, look at the color and shape of the leaves and feel its texture. If outside, look for an animal, insect, or other objects around you. Notice how each item looks, the colors, the smells if any, or the way it feels if you touch it. The goal is to keep your mind occupied and in the present moment, even just for a minute or two, and away from stressful thoughts.

Mindful Awareness

Pay attention to the everyday tasks you usually complete on autopilot. A lot of the time we do things without thinking about them, and this gives our minds time to wander to unhelpful places. Maybe this happens to you while driving home from the office, taking a shower, or pouring your daily cup of morning coffee. Instead of letting your mind wander, really focus on the task at hand and each step of the process. This will help bring focus to the moment and awareness of your surroundings, not your thoughts and feelings.

Sometimes the weight of stress is too great to bear on our own. Be sure to utilize the help of close friends and family, and really lean on your support system when you feel overwhelmed. Other times, it can be helpful to talk to an unbiased listener. A quick internet search can yield results for mental health professionals in your area that can help you continue to develop your mindfulness skills. In addition, you can always stop into your local Patient First center and talk with a physician 365 days a year.

We are here when you need us! Patient First is able to evaluate and treat a wide range of illnesses and injuries. You can visit any Patient First  center  from 8am to 8pm, every day of the year – no appointment is needed.

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