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We’re living in stressful times, so experiencing a terrible anxiety-inducing day (or two) is pretty common now. Like most of us, you’re probably looking for any stress-busting technique that can quell your swirling mind and land you in in the present moment in a more peaceful state — stat! Enter mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to be totally present, fully engaged in where we are, what we’re doing, free from distraction and judgment.
Mindfulness practices are known to regulate our emotions, decreasing anxiety, stress and helping cope with depression. Unlike other stress-relieving practices, like yoga and transcendental meditation, mindfulness is immediate and accessible. Meaning you experience mindfulness and return to calm in a matter of minutes no matter where you are.
Below, experts share their quick mindfulness tricks to deescalate your terrible, stressful day.
Laura Day, practicing intuitive and New York Times bestselling author.
“Embodiment is simply being fully within yourself, in the moment you are living, now. However, embodiment is far from simple, especially from an intuitive perspective.
Research has convincingly demonstrated the existence of non-local perception. In other words, not only are you able to be in other places, other people’s minds, and other times, past and future, but others are able to intrude upon you, often beneath your conscious awareness.
The simple fix is to bring in your perceptions by noticing your five senses in this moment and moving, breathing, sounding, listening, feeling in ways that anchor you inside them.
The reality is that even though we can accurately perceive the future, we can change things only in this moment. Being present, or mindful, allows you to access the alchemic power of awareness. You can sense the future and reform the past, the better to serve your functioning, if and only if you are available, in your body and senses. If you are in you, you are able to make choices about what you allow to enter your perceptual field and what you need to keep at a distance.
Being mindful is, in fact, simply being here, at the point you are physically inhabiting in time and space. All power, pleasure, and effectiveness begin there.”
Practice radical self-acceptance
Devon Hase, Meditation Teacher, Mentor, and Author at Ten Percent Happier.
“A huge part of mindfulness is allowing things to be just as they are. Paradoxically, when we open and allow ourselves to really be authentic – whether we’re feeling stressed, distracted, exhausted or grumpy, things naturally settle out a bit. So when you are transitioning from a stressful day, you might try letting yourself be just as you are. Don’t try to change a thing. With this kind of radical acceptance, you might be surprised at what happens – there is often a level of ease right there in the middle of everything.”
Find an object to focus on
LeNaya S. Crawford, LMFT, RYT and Holistic Wellness Expert.
“Find an object near you and begin to tune into that object, noticing every detail about it. As you begin to notice the patterns, colors, etc. begin to focus on your inhales and exhales as you continue to observe the object.”
Vibay Chandran Weisbecker, Holistic Wellness & Mindfulness Specialist at Mindbody.
“Cook a meal or a simple snack for yourself. As you put together the ingredients, reflect on how they came together while being grateful to all the beings that were responsible for its creation. Eat silently and without distraction.”
Don’t forget to breathe
Heather Peterson, CorePower Yoga Chief Yoga Officer.
“Practice two minutes of slow Pranayama or yoga breathing techniques. For a count of four, breathe in through your nose. Then, breathe out of your nose for a count of four. In two minutes, you can flip your “calm” nervous system on, allowing you to make better decisions on the fly!”
Shift your focus to the good
Tiffany Cruikshank, founder of Yoga Medicine®.
“The brain is wired to focus on the negatives so it takes work to shift a bad day. Simply think of three positive things that have happened already this week and then three things you’re looking forward to in the day ahead of you. If you’re having trouble, look for simple things: having a few minutes to meditate, cooking a nice meal, putting out fires at work before they become worse, etc. If you get good at this, you can increase it to five of each and notice you can always find some positives even on the worst days. Since stress is simply our resistance to reality, this one is key as stress will continue to follow you if you don’t shift your perception of stress.”
A version of this story was published August 2020.
Before you go, check out the best and most affordable mental health apps: