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How to Reduce Stress

When things don’t go the way you want, stress can arise. Much of the stress comes from ruminating about the past or creating imagined stories about the future.

To reduce stress, see if you can rest your mind in the immediacy of the present moment. Upon entering this moment, let go of past stories and imagined future stories—both of which give the illusion of a sense of control—and enter a space of not knowing. By not imagining outcomes based on fears and judgments, you can remain open and present to what is.

We simply don’t know what the future holds. Staying in the immediacy of the present moment can be challenging, but it can be realized with practice. Sometimes the practice is simply one of remembering to focus on just this next breath. And then the next one. And so on…

Here’s a link to a couple of meditations that can help reduce stress:
https://soundcloud.com/joyrains  Hope you enjoy!

mindful stress management techniques

Change Your Awareness, Reduce Your Stress

Changing your awareness can reduce your stress. Consider this: your body doesn’t know the difference between stress you imagine and real stress. If you are watching a suspenseful movie, your heartbeat may quicken and you may even find that beads of sweat are forming on your forehead. Your body is reacting to your mind’s cues.

But by bringing awareness to the content of your mind through meditation, you may be able to release tension in your body. If a woman is at the dentist thinking “I hate being here,” her body may be tensed up as a result of her thoughts. But by bringing awareness to her thoughts and to her body’s tension, she may be able to untangle mental and physical stress and bring her body to a more relaxed state – even though she doesn’t like being where she is.

Just as pulling aside the curtain in “The Wizard of Oz” revealed that the Wizard wasn’t so powerful, pulling aside the curtain on what the mind is thinking can help reduce the power of thoughts, and the related physical stress.

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4 Simple Tips to Reduce Stress

Here are four simple tips to help reduce stress:

Tip #1: Create a Stress-Free Zone at Home
Have a “stress-free zone” in your home. You can learn to associate a dedicated place with quieting your mind, a place where you sit for a few minutes each day and focus on your breathing. You could devote an entire room to this practice, or just a corner of a room. Your “stress-free zone” should include a dedicated place to sit, such as a chair or meditation cushion, and could also include inspirational items, such as books of short readings (for before or after your practice), meditation beads, candles, or music.

Tip #2: Count with your breath. Sit in a comfortable position and count silently to yourself with each breath. For example, count 1 with your in-breath, and 1 with your out-breath. Then count 2 with your in-breath and 2 with your out-breath. Then on to 3 and so on until you get to 10. When you get to 10 start again at one. Or, if you lose your place start again at one, without any judgement for losing your place. This process of counting with each breath helps divert your attention from your anxious thoughts and bring your attention to the here and now.

Tip #3: Say the word “peace” silently to yourself with each inhale and “release” with each exhale. As you say the word, imagine the feeling of peace filling your whole body. Say the word “release” silently to yourself with each exhale. As you say the word imagine releasing tension and anxious thoughts. Continue this practice. “Peace” with each inhale, “release” with each exhale.

Tip #4: Weave Mindful Moments Into Your Day
Consider weaving “mindful moments” into your day-times when you quiet the chatter in your mind, and bring your focus into the present moment. For example, when you walk to the coffee machine in the office, bring all your attention to the soles of your feet as they touch the ground. Anytime your mind wanders, gently bring your awareness back to your feet. Or when you eat lunch, bring all your awareness to the process of eating lunch: the pace of your eating, the taste of the food, the colors of the food on your plate. When your attention wanders, gently bring it back. This process of bringing all your attention to what is happening in the present moment can also go a long way towards managing stress.

The above tips are simple to practice, and best of all, they are free! They don’t require any expensive equipment or training. All they requiring is remembering to stop and pause-if only for a few minutes.