How Mindfulness Exercises Can Improve How You Manage Stress
Mindfulness. Mindfulness exercises.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of it?
Some people think of ritualistic yoga practices, meditation, and prayer. Others think of being more present, breathwork, and therapy techniques. Yet, the beautiful thing about mindfulness is that it can be all that and more. Mindfulness is not some rigid construct that only means this, or only means that. The idea of mindfulness is actually fluid and broad.
What Is Mindfulness?
According to Headspace*, a popular meditation app:
Mindfulness is the idea of learning how to be fully present and engaged in the moment. It encourages awareness of your thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgment.
Considering that definition, mindfulness can be just about anything that floats your boat and allows you to be more present in the now. This means achieving a state of mindfulness can show up in different ways for different people. So, no one way is considered the best way. It is also important to note although mindfulness is a buzzword of sorts now, the idea has been around for a long time – like 2,500+ years long. Buddhist monks have and continue to practice mindfulness meditations and consider it as one of the paths to enlightenment.
Even though mindfulness finds its roots in Buddhism, it is not considered a solely religious practice today. The practice is embraced by individuals of all religious and non-religious backgrounds. In fact, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn is credited with bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society in the 1970s. Additionally, his Center for Mindfulness in Massachusetts created a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic as a way to use mindfulness to address stress, pain, and illness. Now more than ever, with mental health being prioritized more due to the pandemic, mindfulness is making its rightful debut as a star with a handful of perks. Speaking of which, let us dive into what being more mindful can actually offer you.
Benefits Of Mindfulness
Mindfulness boasts a whole heap of mental, emotional, and physical benefits. Research shows that being more mindful is associated with improving your mood, boosting your immune system, improving your sleep, increasing your focus, and reducing your stress and rumination (or excessive overthinking).
Ultimately, we see that mindfulness is rich in benefits, but what technique is best for you? Are you more of the yogi type who gets excited about using Downward-Facing Dog or Happy Baby as a means to focus on the now? Or a foodie type who is more thrilled about more mindfully eating your favorite meals? Regardless of your type, there is a mindfulness technique for you. Let’s explore the different options.
Some common, but most importantly effective, mindfulness techniques are mindful meditation (inclusive of body scanning and breathwork), eating, driving, active listening, and working out. These techniques could be used separately or in combination with one another depending on the desires of the individual.
These various mindfulness exercises can be viewed as more of a Choose Your Adventure book. You choose the best fitting storyline (i.e., technique) based on the desired outcome, with the adventure being a journey to, well, your present. It may not sound. like the most exhilarating experience right now, but remember the idea is all about being more present.
Resources For Mindfulness Exercises
The following resources are categorized based on general mindfulness guidance and helpful resources specific to the targeted mindfulness exercises illustrated in the graphic above.
· Mindfulness Resources: Books (American Psychological Association)
· Getting Started with Mindfulness (Mindful)
· Mindfulness for Children (New York Times)
Mindful Meditation (Body Scanning and Breath Work)
· Figure: Mindfulness Meditation Made Easy (Harvard Gazette)
· What is Mindful Eating? (Mindful)
· 6 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating (Mindful)
· Your Car Commute Is a Chance to Practice Mindfulness (Harvard Business Review)
· How to Practice Mindful Listening (Mindful)
· Mindful Listening (Mindworks)
Mindful Working Out
· How to Meditate through Exercise (Mindful)
· Meditation Meets HIIT in New Mindful Fitness Approach (Daily Burn)
We hope that you are able to use these resources as you begin or further enhance your mindfulness practice and journey – a journey to being a more present and ultimately healthier you! Find the mindfulness exercises that are right for you.
*Disclaimer: This article is not a paid advertisement for either Calm, Insight Timer, or Headspace. They are only being mentioned as potential resources to our readers.
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