I can't tell you how often I hear questions about managing stress & anxiety. In this fast paced world it appears to be an inevitable part of life.
But how much of our stress is based upon what is going on right now, in this moment and how much is based upon regrets or anger from the past or worries about the future?
This creates a mind that is constantly, spinning, grinding, crowded with many thoughts and not very focused and relaxed. If only we could learn to slow it down and manage one thing in the moment. I hear many reasons why that doesn't work:
- I have too much to do!
- I am type A
- My mind keeps grinding, then I can't sleep, causing more stress
- I have to multi-task!
Well I understand all of those reasons, but if you develop a mindfulness practice it can increase your focus but decrease your stress.
So what is mindfulness?
It's just the ability to be aware of your thoughts, emotions & physical sensations in the present moment without judging or criticizing yourself.
Now a few basics to start:
1) it is helpful to sit in a way that you can feel your breath all the way down to your belly, yet you are relaxed.
2) take a deep breath or 2 to start, then continue with your normal breath, paying attention to the in and out breath.
3) your mind will wander- that is natural, just bring your focus back to the breath.
4) start with a short time , 5 minutes, or just 10 breaths.
5) don't judge yourself, just congratulate yourself for doing this.
Your attention may come and go and you may think this is "not working" but just keep consistent with daily practice you will see results!
Cathryn E. Knezevich, PCC Director, Mental Health IOP