In today’s fast-paced world, finding moments of calm can be challenging. Stress frequently accompanies us in our daily lives, impacting our quality of life and, over time, our physical and mental health. Cultivating mindful practices can help us better navigate difficult and stressful situations when they arise and thus protect our health and well-being. In this article, I’ll introduce three simple mindfulness exercises you can easily integrate into your daily routine to reduce stress and find more calm and tranquillity.

 

 

Finding Calm in Chaos: Three Mindfulness Exercises for Daily Stress Relief

Photo: Viktorya Sergeeva, Pexels

 

 

Causes of Stress

 

Stress is a natural response of our body to challenges. Releasing stress hormones allows us to enhance our performance and react more quickly. When stress turns into a constant state of being, however, it can have severe impacts on our health.

In my online counselling practice, I frequently support clients who suffer from various forms of stress. The causes can be diverse, ranging from job pressure and relationship conflicts to financial worries and personal challenges. Stress can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive issues, or sleep disturbances, and in the long run, it can lead to more serious health problems such as a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, burnout, or depression.

The good news is that we can learn how to deal with difficult moments, feelings, and thoughts, and mindfulness can help us react better to stressful situations and conflicts.

 

 

Managing Stress with the Help of Mindfulness

 

Mindfulness means living consciously in the present moment and perceiving our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations without judgment. By focusing on the moment and letting go of distracting thoughts and worries, we can change our reactions to stressors. Various studies have shown that regular mindfulness practice reduces stress, improves emotional regulation, and increases overall satisfaction.

To achieve the best results and effectively use mindfulness for stress management and building resilience, it is essential that the exercises become an integral part of your life. Practising morning meditations, for example, is undoubtedly a good start. However, this alone will likely have little impact on your well-being if the rest of your day remains unchanged. The goal should be to integrate mindfulness firmly into your daily routine. 

In the following, I am introducing three simple mindfulness exercises I frequently use as an online therapist that you can easily incorporate into your daily life.

 

 

Three Mindfulness Exercises for Handling Stress

 

Exercise 1: Mindful Standing Up

 

The first exercise is about performing those small daily routines, which we usually do automatically and without thinking about it, with awareness and intention. We’ll use standing up as an example, but you can do this with your next sip of coffee, the next note you write in your notebook, or even while scrolling through Instagram.

For this exercise, first, sit down if you are not already seated. Now imagine – without actually moving – what your body would need to do in order to stand up. Start with your feet and legs and follow every step your body would need to take to get into an upright position. Could you describe the process in detail?

Once you have completed this visualisation and are ready, try – very slowly – to carry out exactly what you just imagined. Can you stand up this way? Does it actually happen as you envisioned? Did you forget any relevant muscles? Perform each movement with care and mindfulness, feeling your muscles tense and your joints move as you rise to an upright position.

What do you notice? Did you learn something new about yourself and your body? Were you able to be mindful and present in the moment for a short while? This exercise can sharpen our awareness of many automated routines in daily life and help us be conscious and present in our bodies.

Many of our actions and movements happen automatically, without us consciously perceiving or questioning them. By taking the time to stand up mindfully, we direct our attention to our body and its signals. We learn to perceive the subtle nuances of our movements and feel how our body feels in different positions. This can help us release tension, improve our posture, and develop a deeper sense of body awareness.

Moreover, this exercise can strengthen our mindfulness in everyday life. When we get used to consciously perceiving our bodies, it becomes easier to be mindful in other situations as well.

 

 

Exercise 2: Body Scan

 

The body scan is a classic mindfulness exercise that also directs our attention to our body and makes us aware of how we feel physically. A body scan can help us reduce stress by shifting our attention away from our thoughts and worries and immersing us in the present moment.

You can do this exercise anytime and anywhere, but if you’re trying it for the first time, it might be helpful to find a quiet place and perhaps lie down. Later, however, it is recommended to consciously incorporate this exercise into your daily life, for example, while waiting in line at the supermarket or in the middle of a crowded subway. If you want to, and it is possible to do so where you are, close your eyes. Otherwise, try to relax your gaze and softly focus on a point in front of you. Begin to direct your attention to your breath and feel your belly rise and fall with each inhale and exhale.

After a few breaths, direct your attention to your different body parts and mentally go through them from top to bottom or bottom to top. For example, start with your toes and then move gradually through your body, from the left and right leg to the torso, arms, neck and shoulders, and finally from the head to the crown. Feel each part of your body consciously, without making judgments or evaluations. Observe whether you can perceive tension or other sensations, and try to simply observe them without wanting to change them. And don’t worry if you feel nothing at all – that, too, is a perception!

Depending on your needs, the body scan can take a few minutes or half an hour. After completing the exercise, slowly open your eyes, stretch if necessary, and return to the room with a sense of calm and presence. If you like, during the next body scan, you can also try to consciously breathe into the body parts that feel tense and relax them.

 

 

Exercise 3: The Kettle

 

Are you one of those people who leave their desks multiple times a day to make another cup of tea? If so, this exercise is perfect for you!

Next time you go to the kitchen and turn on the kettle, I invite you to use the waiting time for a small mindfulness exercise. Instead of checking your emails or social media on your phone or doing other things like washing dishes, try to pause for a moment.

Consciously feel your feet on the floor, notice your breath, and finally direct your attention to your surroundings. What do you hear, see, smell, taste, and feel? Listen to the sounds around you, look at the colours and shapes of your surroundings, and notice the scents in the air. Pay special attention to small details and nuances that you would normally likely miss.

Of course, this exercise works not only for tea drinkers. You can also apply it while waiting for the lift, brushing your teeth, or simply sitting at your desk or on your couch. The exercise can help you create moments of calm and presence even in the midst of a hectic day. Try it and see how it can improve your perception and well-being!

Integrating mindfulness exercises into your daily life will help you reduce stress, strengthen your mental and emotional health, and lead a more fulfilling and satisfying life. Take time for yourself, practice regularly and patiently, and you will soon feel the positive effects on your well-being.

 

 

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Have you tried one or all of these exercises already? What other mindfulness exercises do you know? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments! And to regularly receive more exercises for your mental health, subscribe to my newsletter!

 

 

Finding Calm in Chaos: Three Mindfulness Exercises for Daily Stress Relief

Photo: Viktorya Sergeeva, Pexels

 

 

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