As you enter the festive season, bust the stress in your life to prepare for the holidays. Applying some principles of mindfulness to your working day will stop stress in its tracks. Try these simple exercises that you can easily incorporate into your day to help you stay calm and focussed.
This means taking as little as one minute to practice this calming meditation as often as possible during the day.
Useful tips: When you are feeling relaxed, count the number of breaths you normally take in a minute. When you want to de-stress, focus your attention on your breath and count each in- and out-breath, from one to the number of breaths you take when relaxed. If you can do this every so often throughout the day, you will be increasing your ‘present- moment’ awareness and reaping the 2positive benefits this brings.
Your neck and shoulders are the first areas to tense and stiffen when you are feeling stressed. By paying attention to your posture when you are seated, you will notice your habitual patterns and stop tension in its tracks. Your external posture often reflects your internal state of mind. By bringing your posture to awareness, you get the capacity to correct it. Remember there is connection between mind and body.
Useful tips: Plant your feet flat on the floor and imagine a plastic band running all the way up your spine, along the back of your neck and out through the crown of your head. Give this band a gentle tug so your spine lengthens, the crown of your head lifts towards the ceiling, and your chin becomes slightly tucked in.
You are now sitting tall with the lower half of your body grounded and connected to the earth and your torso rising up. Knowing how your posture reflects your state of mind allows you to make adjustments.
Focus on the good
We are naturally programmed to be vigilant to any threat and you therefore remember negative experiences more than the positive ones. You should try to focus more on the positive experiences in your life and try to bank them in your body memory.
Useful tips: Notice any experience you judge as good; something that makes you feel good. Pay attention to the experience as it happened and allow it. Become aware of the physical and emotional sensational this experiences makes you fee. Jot down experiences and reflect on what you noticed. There are probably far more pleasant experiences in your day than you thought. By acknowledging them, you allow yourself to have a more balanced view of your life.
Give yourself a hug
A good hug triggers the hormone oxytocin, which increases feelings of optimism, trust, and self-esteem. This activates the calming response and turns off the stress reaction. You can get these benefits by hugging yourself.
Useful tips: Focus on your breath as you allow yourself to experience the sensations of breathing and how your body reacts to it. Place one hand just below your belly button, and exert gentle pressure. Place your opposite hand over your heart space on the left side of your chest. Keep focussing on your breath.
Feel the rise and fall, and the expansion and contraction of your chest and belly. Continue for as long as you wish. The gentle pressure on your heart space and belly stimulates the release of oxytocin, along with its benefits.
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