Have you been feeling more anxious or stressed lately? Did you know incorporating stillness into your daily routine helps will slowing down your mind, increases clarity and reduces stress levels? We spoke with Elaisha Jade, a certified meditation teacher and founder of Your Mindful to provide you with 5 steps on how to use mindfulness and meditation to manage anxiety and stress.
Step #1 – Set the intention to slow down
To be able to apply the rest of the mindful tips I list below, you need to set an intention. If building this practice to assist in managing stressful situations isn’t important to you, you won’t do it. If you do not have a reason to get up in the morning and practice, you won’t do it. I recommend that you take a moment right now and ask yourself the questions: ‘Why should I meditate? Why do I want to be more mindful?’ Once you have those answers write them down on a sticky note and stick it in a place you look at every day. Like your bathroom mirror or next to your alarm clock.
Step #2 – Schedule time to Practice
To ensure you are able to really lean into this practice, I recommend scheduling consistent time every day for you to do it. Start small and set aside 3-5 minutes per day. Spend that time focusing on your breath and/or mindfully journal (more meditations are recommended in the following steps). Meditating first thing in the morning is best because you are more alert and fresh. However, some people enjoy ending their day off with their meditations. While you can practice at both times and throughout the day, I recommend that newbies pick one time and stick to it.
Step #3 – Name it to tame it
Do you have the words to describe your emotional state at any given moment? You can’t ‘fix’ what you don’t know. If you take a moment to recognize and name your emotional state, (whether that be sad, happy, neutral, chaotic or a range of all of them) your brain actually begins to calm itself down. This gives you the ability to begin to recognize why you feel the way you do so you can begin to shift gears when feeling stressed or anxious.
Check out this video with meditation and mindfulness advocate and acclaimed neuroscientist, Dan Seigel. He explains the importance of learning to name what is happening so you can begin to ‘tame’ what is going on.
If you want to grow and learn more emotional words, check out this piece on ‘English at Home’ that has a list of great emotions. I recommend journaling at night and naming your current emotional state. Then breaking down why you might feel that way. This will assist you in unravelling why you feel stressed or anxious.
Step #4 – Slow Down
Okay! You’ve set your intention and learned how to recognize emotions now it’s time to practice slowing down. Social media hustle-culture is recommending people take the opportunity to be hyper-productive. However, this could exacerbate the anxiety and stress you may be feeling. Instead, try seeing the current climate as an opportunity to slow yourself down. I recommend breathwork meditations that focus on deep exhalation. These kinds of meditations show you how to relax through breathing and taking a moment for yourself. You can use these breathing tools in real life to assist in self-regulation in times of high stress and anxiety.
Step #5 – Act don’t React
As you begin to slow down and reflect through breathwork and build tools with this your meditation practice, your next step is to learn how to act instead of reacting. To act is to be in the moment and recognize it for what it is. I love using the example of someone bumping into you on the street and not apologizing. In the moment you might remember someone who didn’t respect your boundaries or even bullied you. You might even look ahead into your future and think that you don’t ever want someone to bump into you like that again. As a result, your response might be an overreaction. If you learn to look at the moment for what it is through building a sense of curiosity, you will learn to act and not react. You will act in the moment and respond for what it is. You might brush off the moment and think, “I wonder why they weren’t paying attention? I wonder why they were in such a rush?” To develop this skill, I recommend trying a body scan meditation. This meditation helps you focus in on your body part-by-part without responding to any of the sensations you may be feeling. If you feel an itch, tingle or mild discomfort from sitting, you are invited to observe the feeling then move your attention to something else. This practice assists you in learning how to act and observe with curiosity instead of reacting with the perspective of your past.
Elaisha Jade is a certified meditation teacher and founder of Your Mindful. Your Mindful offers meditation and mindfulness workshops and sessions focused on spreading the incredible impact of mindfulness in the workplace, especially for women.
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