We all deal with stress on a daily basis. As the pace of life begins to accelerate again, it’s all too easy to feel stressed and let it impact our physical and emotional wellbeing. When we get stressed and overwhelmed, we often want to escape our thoughts and distract ourselves from the situation. But did you know that a little mindfulness can help connect us to our emotions, and have tangible health benefits?
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a practice with roots reaching as far back as the ancient traditions of Buddhist meditation. However, mindfulness has had a resurgence in recent years, with many being more mindful of their headspace and natural stress relievers. Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to reveal important health benefits as it increases awareness and allows us to accept and exist in the present member, whatever that looks like.
Mindful exercises to practice to alleviate stress
- Sit comfortably or stand in one spot
- Shift your focus to your breathing
- Pick a single aspect to focus on, such as the rising and falling of your chest or the sensation in your nose
- Spend at least five minutes in this state of awareness
- When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath
- Choose a convenient time to eat when you won’t be interrupted or expected to socialize
- Eat slowly. Focus on each sensation in each bite. Recognize the smell, sight, touch, sound, and taste
- Put down your knife and fork between each bite to fully enjoy it
- Immerse yourself in the richness of the practice of eating
- Eat your whole meal slowly and with appreciation
- Sit comfortably somewhere you won’t be interrupted
- Close your eyes and let your body relax
- Bring your attention to your toes
- Working up from your toes, bring awareness to each body part
- Move up from your toes to your feet, ankles, knees, hips, stomach, chest, shoulders, arms, throat, and head
- Focus on acknowledging each area of your body and recognizing how it is feeling
- Relax all the muscles in each area consciously
- If you notice any tension or start to get uncomfortable, breathe and do not get frustrated. Accept these sensations as they are
Open awareness meditation
- Sit comfortably where you won’t be distracted or disturbed
- Close your eyes and bring your attention to the thoughts and feelings you’re experiencing in each moment
- Observe these thoughts and feelings in a non-judgmental way
- When you think of something, label it as either ‘thinking’ or ‘feeling’ and imagine letting go of it like a balloon. This will help you separate yourself from these thoughts and gain a more open perception.
- Be aware that it can take many sessions of practice to get into the habit of calming the mind
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