Taking some time in your day to do some quiet reflection and deep breathing can be a really beneficial way to lower your stress levels. Meditation and mindfulness exercises are two ways you can help your body relax by focusing your thoughts and slowing your breathing. You might be wondering if you have time to build these kinds of exercises into your already busy schedule, but the good news is that even a small amount of focused mindfulness can help relax your mind and body. Here are some ways you can incorporate mindful breathing and meditation into your life:
- Go to a yoga class
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. There is at least one yoga class a day between Monday and Saturday in the Athletics shoetag fitness schedule.
- 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.
- Use a meditation app
Again, this is something you can do with relatively little time on a daily basis to help slow your thoughts and keep your mood balanced. There are lots of apps out there. Some of our favourites are the Stop, Breathe, and Think app, the Calm app, and the Headspace app. Stop, Breathe, and Think lets you pick what you are feeling and then helps you pick a meditation that fits your mood and emotions. Calm includes a variety of meditations for different situations and also includes bedtime stories in case you are having trouble getting to sleep. Headspace takes you through a multi-day program to help you learn the basics of meditating and build meditation into your daily habits.
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.