Mindfulness in Everyday Life - Beating Stress 10 Minutes at a Time
When removing the stressors in your life is not an option (and so often it’s not), the next best thing is to reduce the impact the stressors have on your body, and normalize cortisol. Chronically high cortisol is the reason why stress causes so many health problems (read about that here). There are herbs and nutrients that can definitely help, but mindfulness-based meditation is a terrific tool that is too often overlooked. It helps reduce depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, digestive issues, and chronic pain. I frequently teach my patients how to incorporate meditation into their routines, and it only takes 10 minutes per day, at no cost or need of any equipment. Absolutely anyone can do this.
Here are two methods – see which one resonates best with you. Practice every day, just about anywhere and as often as you can manage – a boardroom, the bathroom, at home, in your office or cubicle, on the train, etc. You will reap the benefits of reduced stress, better mood, relaxation, and the ability to better cope and communicate with your world.
The Basic Method
Try and find a comfortable seat with a backrest. Sit back with feet flat on the floor, back straight yet relaxed, and head in a neutral forward-facing position.
Start a timer for however much time you have to spare, 10-15 minutes ideally
Place your hands, palms up, on your lap.
Close your eyes and start taking slow, deep, measured breaths. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. Try make the inhales and the exhales the same length
With each inhale focus on the sensation of the air flowing into your chest, expanding the ribs and abdomen. Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
With each exhale, focus on the sensation of your chest and abdomen deflating, and picture the breath taking away all tension our of your body
Unavoidably, you mind will start wandering and thoughts will flow. This is where the practice part comes in. Instead of putting effort into not thinking (that doesn’t work), simply become aware that your mind is wandering, and return your awareness to the breath. With time and practice, your mind will wander less and less.
The Finger Count Method
This one sets up just like the Basic method, but instead of the timer and self-directed breathing, you will count 20 breaths by using your thumb and fingers. Look to the diagram for help. Do this with both hands.
Breath 1 – touch your thumb to the base of your baby finger.
Breath 2 – thumb to the first fold line on your baby finger, up from the base
Breath 3 – thumb to the second fold line on your baby finger above the base
Breath 4 – thumb to the tip of your baby finger
Repeat this pattern with your ring, middle, and index fingers for breaths 5-16
Breath 17 – touch or point your index finger to your palm
Breath 18 – index finger to the webbing between your index finger and thumb
Breath 19 - index finger to the fold line in the middle of your thumb
Breath 20 – index finger to tip of thumb