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.