Hi friends! I’m Juliette from Namastay Traveling and am so excited to be sharing with you some of the best ways to be mindful when life stresses you out here on Mindful with Mal. As a yoga instructor in Northern Virginia just outside of D.C., I’m constantly revolving my classes around bringing awareness to my students both in the studio, and in the real world.
We all have those days where our coffee spills on the way to work, our inbox seems to double itself every ten minutes and we’re chronically late to every appointment we make. Overwhelmed, overworked, overbooked? Join the club. Although it doesn’t appear that life is going to slow down anytime soon, there are numerous strategies we can use to help appreciate the moments for what they are, detaching from what is behind us and what is in front of us. It all comes down to creating a mindful presence and choosing to exist in the now.
Being mindful doesn’t mean you’re stresses will disappear or fall to the wayside. It simply means you’re giving yourself back the control over how you feel and interpret situations. Think of mindfulness as the protective armor that keeps your wellbeing and contentment intact. Even if everything else appears to be imploding, mindfulness allows you to control your reactions in a way that’s positive and beneficial. Easier said than done, eh? In order to be more aware of your surroundings, and how you respond to them, try out these various methods that venture away from daily anxieties, but towards a place of consistency and, in turn, peace.
When stressed, our body naturally has certain reactions to deal with these anxieties. Our shoulders might hunch, our toes tap or our breathing gets short and shallow. In your mind, run through your body from the bottom of your feet up to the top of your head, pausing at each muscle to release it. Focus on any areas that might be holding strain and mentally release it from its worries. This might be physically relaxing a muscle, or fixing your posture to elongate your spine.
Count Your Breaths
Since we tend to breathe more shallow and quicker when we’re stressed, try one of the following breathing techniques, otherwise known as pranayama, to control the breath. Breathe in for the count of five, hold for two, and then exhale for eight. Repeat until you’ve naturally slowed the rhythm. Or, using your pointer finger and ring finger, alternate breathing in and out of each nostril separately. Concentrating on your breath brings you to this moment and allows you to only view yourself in the present, which can prevent you from worrying about what happened yesterday and what is yet to come tomorrow.
Label Your Thoughts
As humans, we will naturally have thoughts that can overwhelm and extinguish us both mentally and physically. However, our thoughts can be a creation of the stories we tell ourselves that don’t even exist. Like that time you imagined an entire conversation in your head that ended up going in a completely different direction. We end up worked up over something that was never real. As soon as we are able to define outside of simply our thoughts, we give ourselves the control to accept what we may feel, but know it doesn’t determine who we are or how we act in the world. We can do this by labeling our thoughts as something that either hasn’t happened yet, or something that already happened that we’re hanging on to. After we’ve categorized it, we can accept what it has to offer us, and then move on from it, taking it’s stressors with it.
Sometimes imagining these peaceful scenarios isn’t enough to truly separate ourselves from them. If you’re having difficulty imagining this divide, use a notebook to write down the feelings you have. As soon as the feeling moves from your brain, to your arm, to your hand, to your pencil and ultimately the page, it is no longer yours to worry about. Writing down lists, poems, stories and memories is a form of therapy that takes the pressure off of you and moves it to a physical form that you can put away, moving forward without its weight.
Ask For Help
If you’re unable to handle your stresses alone, confide in a close friend or family member with how you are feeling. We often think we have to accomplish it all today, giving ourselves nearly impossible timelines. If you’re drowning, hand your tasks off to someone who can help. Sometimes it’s not so much the actual chores that need to be accomplished, but having someone simply listen to your stressors and confirming that they are valid is enough to give you the strength to push ahead.
How do you stay mindful during the day? What’s the best way for you to release stress?
(Bio and links below)
About the Author: Juliette
Bio: Juliette is a certified vinyasa and yin yoga teacher in Northern Virginia. When she’s not in the studio, she can be found traveling the world and sharing her experiences on Namastay Traveling, a blog about achieving mindfulness both at the home and on the road. Follow more of her adventures on instagram or blog, Namastay Traveling, to get the most up-to-date travel tips along with her current yoga teaching schedule!
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