3 Simple Mindfulness Techniques To Reduce Stress In Seconds

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Self

The world has become unpredictable and there are very few who feel untouched by the stress of constantly changing circumstances. This is where mindfulness can help.

You strive to deal with all the world seems to throw at you, but it's not always easy.

Not only do you need to manage the impact stress has on you as an individual, but you also have to take into consideration how it impacts those around you.

This complicates interactions and requires an increased level of mindfulness on a day-to-day basis, specifically through self-awareness and awareness of the world around us.

The world around is constantly changing with advancements in technology, fluctuations in the economy, the beginnings and endings of relationships, health issues, birth and death, global warming, political upheaval, social unrest, etc.

The nature of life is that things are constantly changing in and around you. All aspects of your life are impacted by change — work, home, finances, socializing with family and friends, health (physical, mental, and spiritual), recreation, worship, etc.

RELATED: 4 Ways To Use Mindfulness To Beat Burnout At Work

Along with the impact of change comes stress.

When things change, pressure (a.k.a., stress) is put on you to adjust to those changes. The adjustments can vary from slight to devastating.

Regardless of where the impact falls on this scale, it's unavoidable and necessary — it's not always a smooth transition.

It's especially difficult because almost everyone around you is struggling to adjust to something in their own life. That means that the people you would like to lean on are feeling scared, stressed, tired, and sad themselves.

How to survive and thrive during times of upheaval.

So, what can you do to survive and even thrive during times of upheaval and the anxiety it triggers? Use mindfulness to turn inward!

It's essential to turn toward the only thing over which you actually have control: Yourself — your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and actions.

If ever there was a time that the oxygen mask analogy was applicable, it's when you're filled with anxiety.

Stop right now!

Grab that imaginary oxygen mask and take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Now do it four more times on a count of four in and count of four out.

Taking care of yourself is key.

You must take care of yourself. Your ability to remain present, grounded, and clear-minded is essential to making choices that will support healthy and sustainable adjustment.

The most important thing you can do right now is to deal with your own reactions to change and the pressure to pivot.

Get your mind clear so that you can truly be consciously available to support those around you and find effective solutions to the new challenges with which you are faced.

There are many ways that you can deal with what has hijacked your body, mind, and spirit.

Here are 3 quick mindfulness activities you can do to check in with yourself and reduce your stress.

1. Tune in to your body's sensations.

This is simple. Close your eyes — it's easier to focus this way. Do a body scan from head to toe and notice where you're feeling any discomfort of some sort.

Maybe it is a furrowed brow, a clenched jaw, the tension in your neck or shoulders, a lump in your throat, aching in your chest, swirling in your belly, etc.

When you notice something, focus your attention there and just breathe (like you are breathing into that part of your body) using the "four by four" breathing mentioned above.

After a few breaths, you may notice the sensation intensifying, weakening, changing, or shifting to another part of your body. Just notice and keep breathing.

After about 90 seconds, you will notice the sensation has dramatically lessened or dissipated entirely.

Why is this useful? When you're upset, feeling threatened, sad, or angry, you go into a fight-or-flight response, which activates all these reactions in your body to protect yourself.

Then your mind creates a cognitive-emotive loop to make sense of your defensive reaction. You think thoughts that support your reaction, feel emotions related to that, and your body responds with uncomfortable sensations.

Tuning into the body and allowing sensations to be there while breathing slowly calms down the nervous system and breaks the loop.

RELATED: How To Take Control Of Your Mind & Eliminate Stress So You Can Live Your Best Life

2. Feel your feelings.

In the same way that you tuned in to physical sensations in your body and allowed them to be there and move, you tune in and watch your emotions move through.

Notice an emotion, maybe even name it as one of the five basic emotions — fear, sadness, anger, joy, and creative or sexual energy.

Sit with it and feel it while breathing. Again, when you allow it to be there and move the way it wants to, it eventually moves through and dissipates.

It doesn’t necessarily disappear entirely, but the grip it has on you does. You can be aware of it while not being driven by it.

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3. Challenge your story.

This means to question the thoughts that are fueling your reactivity. You might have a thought like, "My business will be ruined by this economic crisis."

That thought would generate fear emotionally and a fear reaction in your body.

Then, it could trigger other thoughts like, "How will I support my family," or, "How will my employees survive?" and then the fear increases and fuels more thoughts, and so on and so on.

You might ask yourself if it's true that the crisis completely ruined your business. Look at the facts.

Are you completely out of money, inventory, the ability to produce, creative ideas, disaster relief options, options for collaboration or reinvention, etc.?

Find a few ways in which your story is not true. If you have trouble switching your mindset, Byron Katie’s process in The Work has an excellent worksheet for challenging your stories.

After you challenge the truth of your thought, you once again break the loop - this time by shifting the way you are thinking.

Be aware of shame in these processes. 

When you choose to break the loop with one or all three of these techniques, be aware of one potential pitfall — shame.

Sometimes, when you shift your perspective, move out of the swirling tumult of your own reactivity, and can see what you did while in that state of mind, there's potential for shame to set in.

With clear eyes, your behavior can appear irrational and embarrassing. If you don’t pay attention, you can easily slip into another reactive cycle by shaming yourself for having been reactive in the first place.

Don’t let the shame knock you down when you have just gotten yourself upright. If you notice shame creeping in, just go back to the three techniques and stop the shame in its tracks.

You're only human. 

We are all human and the constantly changing nature of modern-day life is challenging for all of us.

When the challenge of adjusting to change gets to you, turn inward and do your own triage first. Then, with clear eyes and an open heart, turn to those around you and figure out how to get through it together.

RELATED: The One Mindfulness Technique That Eliminates Anxiety —​ Without Medication!

Michelle Thompson is a life coach who specializes in helping individuals improve their positive energy flow, reconnect with their inner self, and embrace their capacity to love and live more fully. To learn more, sign up for Michelle's weekly coaching open house and visit her website for more information.