Recently, I’ve been learning as much as I can about mindfulness as a technique for stress reduction. I was so skeptical, but I’d reached the point where I was ready to try anything. And the funny part? As much as I resisted, I now believe mindfulness practices were the answer to stress and anxiety that I was seeking.
We’re all capable of mindfulness, but it’s easy to lose sight of the techniques we need when we’re feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. As a full-time working mom with a corporate career that required frequent business travel, I was often stressed. Add in the anxiety and trauma that comes with foster care and foster parenting, becoming a family of four in an incredibly short period of time, and life was beginning to feel out of control. In the end, an unexpected layoff may have been a blessing in disguise. (You can read more about that experience in my post on New Beginnings.)
One of the best things I did for myself during this period of time was work with a career coach who encouraged mindfulness practices. And the more time I made for mindfulness, even when I was convinced I didn’t have a minute to spare, the better I felt. If you’ve ever felt the same, I genuinely encourage you to give mindfulness techniques a try for stress reduction.
What is Mindfulness?
According to Mindful.org, “mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
I have yet to meet a mom of little ones who couldn’t use more mindfulness practices in their life!
How to Practice Mindfulness
- Take a few minutes and find a comfortable space. That’s it. You don’t need any special equipment, just a little room to sit, stand or lay down where you feel comfortable.
- Observe the present moment. Your goal is to pay attention, without judgement. There’s no need to empty your head of thoughts. Just focus on being in the moment.
- Don’t get derailed by judgments. We all have them and its inevitable that you’ll begin noticing them as you practice mindfulness. Acknowledge that they’re there, but then let them roll by.
- Refocus on observing the present moment as it is. It’s normal to get carried away by your thoughts. The goal of mindfulness is to return, over and over, to the present moment.
- Be gentle with yourself. It’s okay if your mind wanders. Don’t judge yourself for becoming distracted. Instead, focus on noticing that your mind has wandered and gently lead it back to observing the present moment.
And that’s it. So simple, but difficult at the same time. Stick with it and you’ll find that tapping into that feeling of calm that comes from practicing mindfulness will become easier in time. And the benefits of mindfulness will only continue to accrue as you deepen your practice.
The Benefits of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Techniques
The American Psychiatric Association has found numerous benefits of mindfulness, including:
- Stress reduction
- Increased immune functioning
- Reduced rumination
- Greater focus
- Improved working memory
- Decreased emotional reactivity
- Increased cognitive flexibility
- Greater relationship satisfaction
- Improved fear modulation
3 Easy Mindfulness Breathing Techniques for Stress Reduction
- Take a slow, deep breath in
- Pause for a moment
- Slowly let your breath out
- Pause briefly before beginning the sequence again
Relaxing Breath, or the 4-7-8 Count
- Rest the tip of your tongue on the back of your teeth
- Let out a deep exhale and don’t be afraid to sigh or let the air make a whooshing sound
- Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for a count of four
- Hold your breath for a count of seven
- Exhale completely for a count of eight, letting out another sigh or whooshing sound
- Repeat the sequence until you feel tranquil and relaxed
Abdominal Breathing for Stress Reduction
- Place one hand on your chest
- Place your other hand on your stomach
- Take a deep breath in through your nose
- Feel your hand on your stomach rise as you inflate your diaphragm with air
- Slowly release your breath through your mouth
Do Breathing Exercises Help Anxiety?
Yes, breathing exercises can be helpful for anxiety. Anxiety is often accompanied by shallow breathing, so focusing on being mindful of your breath and practicing deep breathing exercises can be an effective way of inducing a state of calm.
Interested in More Stress Reduction Techniques?
Have you tried any mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques? How do you combat the stresses of mom life?
I did a 6 week mindfulness course on Living with Pain. It was very interesting meeting & sharing with others,( most of whom had a lot more pain than me to deal with).
We always started with a long relaxation.
We all found (through keeping a diary) that we go hell for leather at things & then collapse. We tried to learn to stop before we get tired. That was very helpful.
My late husband used to say at parties, Let’s go while the going is good, whereas I always wanted to stay longer.