Home. Work. School. Holidays. Social calendars. To-do lists. Life has no shortage of ways to keep us busy — and often moving at an all too frenetic pace. If all this busyness has you feeling overwhelmed, worn out, and on edge, you’re not alone. However, stress doesn’t have to be a foregone conclusion! You can learn some quick and easy mindfulness tools to have on hand when you feel yourself tipping into stress overload. These will help you train your brain to cool down and reset rather than spiral out into full-blown anxiety. Here are a few soothing and accessible techniques to try.
3 Stress-Reducing Mindfulness Tools
R = Recognize your feeling and name it (i.e., “Oh, that’s stress. I’m feeling anxious. I feel upset.”). Labeling the emotion calms your brain down, enabling your prefrontal cortex to come on line so you can make a more skillful response.
A = Allow your feeling to be there without judging it. Your feelings aren’t “good” or “bad.” They just are.
I = Investigate gently with curiosity why this feeling is there. Notice what triggered you, again without judgment. You are playing the role of mindful observer here.
N = Nourish yourself. What do you need to give yourself or hear or do right now to make yourself feel better? This could be a gentle touch, such as placing your hand over your heart; or it could be a mindful phrase such as “I am loved. I am healthy. I am safe,” or one of your own creation.
BONUS: Change the channel! Once you’ve gone through these steps, finish by tapping into a positive mental state from a pleasant memory. Feel that goodness for a breath or two, really letting it fill you up. This enables it to transform from a mental state to a neural trait.
2. Find a Here-and-Now Stone.
This can be any stone that feels good to you; it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. You can find a stone on a walk in the woods, in your yard, at a beach, or even at a craft store. It just needs to be one that feels good in your hand.
Once you’ve selected your stone, bring it everywhere with you. Keep it in a purse or pocket. Maybe even string it up to wear around your neck if that feels right. Then reach for it whenever you feel stress coming on. Allow the stone to ground you. Put your full attention on it. Why? You are choosing to put mindful attention on your stone rather than on whatever person, place, or thing is causing you stress. You are giving your brain a much-needed break from the chaos.
3. Practice the Receiving-Sending Meditation.
This is a great to tool to use anywhere, anytime. Take several deep, nourishing breaths and really allow yourself to tune into your breath. Then, breathe in compassion for yourself, and breathe it out for the other person/place/thing that has caused you stress. You can also breathe in the suffering, then breathe out peace and light.
Stress doesn’t only come from hugely upsetting events. It can come in the most unexpected of moments when we’re grocery shopping, sitting in traffic, or when someone interrupts us while we’re in the middle of sending an email. Whenever stress occurs for you, remember these simple tools and use R.A.I.N., a here-and-now stone, or the receiving-sending meditation to shift yourself out of stress autopilot and return to feelings of inner calm. The more you practice, the easier it will become, and the more peaceful your life will be.
About: Mindfulness expert and author Julie Potiker is an attorney who began her serious study and investigation of mindfulness after graduating from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of California, San Diego. She went on to become trained to teach Mindful Self-Compassion, and completed the Positive Neuroplasticity Training Professional Course with Rick Hanson. Now, she shares these and other mindfulness techniques with the world through her Mindful Methods for Life trainings and her new book: “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos.” For more information, visit www.MindfulMethodsForLife.com.
Mindfulness expert and author Julie Potiker is an attorney who began her serious study and investigation of mindfulness after graduating from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of California, San Diego. She went on to become trained to teach Mindful Self-Compassion, [...]