Meditation and practising mindfulness can help you when you are in or approaching stressful situations. Meditation and mindfulness exercises are two ways you can help your body relax by focusing your thoughts and slowing your breathing. Taking time to calm your mind can not only help you during times of stress but can also help feel more even-keeled in your day-to-day life. The great thing about meditation is that you can practice it virtually anywhere and it doesn’t require a big monetary investment to get in to.
Keep reading to find some easy meditations you can do in 15 minutes or less throughout your day.
- Standing meditation: Imagine a tree standing beside you. Breathing deeply, feel your feet rooted into the ground. Imagine the depth of the roots and the strength under you, supporting you. Imagine your body a solid trunk, but one that is flexible and giving. Allow it to sway, slightly bending in the breeze, your arms open like branches, your hands turned like leaves towards the sun. Breathe deeply and think about the strength and beauty of the tree. Feel the depth of the ground and all its support.
- Falling leaf: Stare at a point on the wall across from you. Visualize a leaf on this spot. With each breath, count backwards from 20 to 1 as you watch the leaf slowly drifting to the ground. At 1, the leaf reaches the ground and you are deeply relaxed.
- Ten candles: Close your eyes and imagine a row of ten lit candles in front of you, any style or colour. As you exhale, imagine yourself blowing out one of the candles. With each successive breath, blow out each candle. Let yourself become more deeply relaxed with each one. When all the candles are out, let yourself enjoy the peace and quiet of the room.
- Try an app: There are many apps out that can help you with guided meditation. Try some of our favourites, like Calm; Stop, Breathe and Think; Insight Timer; or Headspace.
- Try a Mind Body Run/Walk: A virtual mindful running and walking program to help you to keep physically and mentally healthy.
- Practice Yoga: Yoga and mindfulness go hand in hand, plus you’ll get the added stress-busting bonus of physical activity as well. Many yoga classes encourage participants to let go of thoughts that are bothering and end with a period of stillness and meditation. Focusing on the movement of your body and your breathing, instead of your worries and to do lists, can help you calm your mind and let go of thoughts that are unhelpful. Athletics and Recreation has online yoga classes multiple times a week.
- Listen to a guided meditation or relaxation track on YouTube: There are lots of meditation and relaxation exercises out there on YouTube. Most are five to ten minutes and can be used to slow your breathing and relax your body and mind. Because they are so short, you could build them into your routine by listening to one when you wake up in the morning and another before you go to bed at night. You could try a guided imagery exercise, a mindful breathing exercise, a 5,4,3,2,1 exercise, or a cognitive defusion exercise from one of our workshops and seminars. Or find some others from the vast variety out there online, but make sure to choose one that really speaks to you.
The thing with mindfulness and meditation is that the more you do it the better you get. It only takes five minutes to do an exercise through an app the next time you feel stressed, anxious, trapped, or sad, and it can leave you feeling much better. When you then do that five minutes every day, it can help you build up your tolerance for stress. Gradually you’ll start to be less susceptible to the effects of stress and be able to bounce back from stressful situations more easily.