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6 unexpected ways to practice mindfulness and relieve daily stress

6 unexpected ways to practice mindfulness and relieve daily stress

6 unexpected ways to practice mindfulness and relieve daily stress

Here are 6 unexpected ways you can practice mindfulness to relieve daily anxiety and stress in less than 10 minutes.

Elise Bialylew is bestselling author of, The Happiness Plan and founder of Mindful in May, the world’s largest online global mindfulness fundraising campaign that teaches thousands of people to meditate, while raising funds to build clean water projects in the developing world. She shares with MiNDFOOD tools for greater wellbeing and how to be more mindful and less stressed out.

Be mindful in supermarket queues

Next time you’re stuck in a long line at the supermarket use it as an opportunity to practise mindfulness. Tune into the body, sense your feet on the ground, feel the breath and notice it’s quality (is it fast or slow, tight or flowing with ease), tune into the sounds, immerse yourself in your senses as a way to get out of your head. Check in with how you are feeling, notice any irritation or impatience in the body and use the outbreath to actively let it go. Then bring your attention to the person standing in front of you and remind yourself that just like you they have their many hopes, dreams, fears and disappointments. Take a moment to quietly in your own mind, to wish them well, in this way practising the traditional loving-kindness meditation, which will generate good feelings in you and help train your own mind and heart towards greater patience, and compassion.

Name it to tame it

Neuroscientific research demonstrates that when we’re stressed, talking or writing about how we’re feeling helps us calm down. As we become more mindful of difficult emotions, we reinforce neural pathways that help us remember to pause when we’re in the heat of an emotion, and use the most evolved part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, to calm ourselves down.

Be mindful while in conversation                                                                                                                                 

Conversations are a great opportunity to practise being mindful – and mindfulness in turn supports us in experiencing intimacy. Often during conversations we can be caught up in our own concerns and thoughts. When we mindfully communicate, we consciously open our awareness to include a sense of our own body and emotional state, while also making space to be open to the other person. Pay attention to the person’s non-verbal communication: their posture, eye contact, and facial expressions. A large part of communication is transmitted through our non-verbal gestures and signs. Many of us are uncomfortable with silence and so we speak to fill the space. Notice if you have a tendency to fill the space and don’t be afraid to pause in conversations.

Wake up mindfully                                                                                                         

When you first wake up in the morning, take a moment to consciously sense how you are feeling: Rested? Tired? Lazy? Energetic? Bring awareness to your body, and more specifically to the feeling of your breath. Before you do anything else (like check your phone!), count ten breaths as they move in and out of the body and make sure that as you are counting, you actually feel the sensations of the breath in your body, allowing your mind to be free from any concerns about the day to come. If you lose count and get distracted, simply begin again when you notice you’ve lost count. After counting the breaths, drop the counting and bring to mind three things you are grateful for in your life. Get out of bed and start your day with a positive attitude.

Use your breath to calm yourself down

You breath is intimately connected to your nervous system. Use it to your advantage when you’re feeling stressed to calm yourself down by slowing your breath and extending your exhalation. This activate the rest and digest branch of the nervous system and calm you down, helping you make better decisions about what is needed when you are under pressure.                                                                                                                                                                   

Take a ten minute holiday for your mind

Although when we’re stressed the last thing we want to do is stop and meditate, research shows that meditating for just ten minutes can help you be more focussed and effective. Give your mind a ten minute holiday and it will reward you with a powerful return on investment of greater focus, clarity and effectiveness.

To learn how to meditate buy The Happiness Plan one month mindfulness guidebook or register for Mindful in May and learn from the world’s best teachers.

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