April is Stress Awareness month, so this is a great time to understand what stress is and how mindfulness can combat our anxieties. Read on to find 3 of my favorite ways to practice mindfulness.
What is stress?
The word “stress” can be described as many things, but the definition that we will use today is: the physical pressure, pull, or other force exerted on one thing by another; strain.
There is good stress and bad stress; most of it depends on our perspectives and reactions to our life’s events. We tend to think that stress is only a bad thing. “I am so stressed out,” we say. Stress ignites the “fight or flight” reaction in our bodies. It’s up to us to take the stressor and use it to our advantage. Mindfulness can help us do that.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis. In simple terms, be present.
Hopefully these tips will help you, as they have helped me, to ease the “bad” stress and grow in your path toward a more mindful lifestyle.
TIP #1: Put electronics away!
I always do my best to practice this especially during meals. While sitting at lunch or dinner, I focus on my food and the company I am keeping. Not only is it important to remove distractions from your meals and conversation, but it’s also the polite thing to do.
Pay attention to what your company is saying. Pay attention to how to their voice sounds. Pay attention to their facial expressions. Pay attention to their reactions to what you say and do. Paying closer attention to the company you keep will teach you a lot about who and why the people in your circles are in them. You will learn to appreciate people more, your relationships will flourish, and your communication skills will improve. Everyone has something to teach you – allow yourself to learn.
TIP #2: Take Power Walks.
In one of my previous jobs, my co-workers would go on power walks. I loved joining their power walks. The change in scenery, the non-work related conversation and the laughs we shared lifted up our moods and energy levels to get through the day.
Get out of your stressful environment for a few minutes to take a brisk walk. Notice the sidewalks, trees, sky, sounds of your footsteps. Clear your mind of all the things that led you to your power walk and all of the things you expect to return to. When your walk is over, your endorphins will be rushing, and you’ll be refreshed and ready to continue with your tasks at hand!
TIP #3: Do not multi-task.
I used to think that multi-tasking meant that I was more productive. It was only through practicing mindfulness that I learned how much more productive we are if we finish what we start.
This may be the hardest of my 3 tips. Multi-tasking has been praised as a talent for far too long!
I choose to offer 100% of myself to all that I do. Choose to be a person who gives more than 25% here, 13% there or 39% there.. Our minds were never meant to listen to “that” while reading “this” and watching “something over there”. Multi-tasking is unnatural. We can grow our attention spans and skill sets by tackling tasks one at a time. I continue to amaze myself with how much I get done this way.
I have to constantly remind myself that mindfulness is a practice. Feel free to tweak these tips to suit you and your lifestyle. This road is far from easy or perfect. We will get better and better the more we try. So, keep trying! Bad stress has a way of sneaking into our heads, keeping us from focusing and making mountains out of molehills. By applying these tips to our daily lives, we can overcome all of our daily obstacles. I know this, because they have worked for me and they can work for you, too.
Fabletics Master, Kalila Stein