Do you ever wish you could just take a moment out of your day to de-stress? Have you been looking for a “quick fix” method to beat high-anxiety situations? Let’s face it: everyone deals with stress on a daily basis. Whether you’re at work, in a social situation, or running through your to-do list, there is always a need for a break. Ideally, you’d like to take an hour or two out of your day for a mindfulness-based stress relief (MBSR) class with a professional, but that’s not always realistic with your hectic schedule.
That’s why we’re giving you 3 MBSR techniques that you can do almost anywhere to make you calm, centered and refreshed so you can get back to your day!
Many of us never take a moment to notice our breath. It can be a great indicator of how we’re feeling, both physically and emotionally. On the other side of the same coin, we can use breath awareness and mindfulness in breathing as an MBSR technique to cultivate calm in the mind and body.
Yogic breathing, also known as belly breathing, can take some practice, but is very effective in combating stress. It moves extra air deeper into your body so that more oxygen can be absorbed into your bloodstream and brain.
1. It can be helpful to practice this technique the first few times lying down so there is less pressure on your diaphragm, but can definitely be done in a comfortable seated or standing position.
2. Straighten your spine and relax your shoulders down your back. Take a moment to notice the quality of your resting breath, without judgment. If your breath is only going into your chest and causing your collar bones to rise, then your breath is quite shallow. This is common if you’re feeling stressed or rushed, but is easy to remedy.
3. Begin to breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, closing your eyes if you’re comfortable doing so. In this MBSR exercise, your stomach should expand, but your chest should rise very little. It can be helpful to place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest so you can feel how the air is moving through your body.
4. Exhale slowly through your mouth. As you blow air out, purse your lips slightly, but keep your tongue and jaw relaxed. Push the air out with your stomach muscles so that your belly button moves closer to your spine with the exhale.
5. Take 10 deep breaths just like this, then take a break. You can do as many sets as you have time for. Try to stay focused on sending your breath deep into your belly and your seat. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back and focus on the path of your breath in through your nostrils, down your throat, and into your core, then back out again.
Body Scan Meditation
Taking a moment to introspect and assess your inner state can be a very effective stress reliever, which is why body scan meditation is one of the most common MBSR practices. It’s a very simple process that can be done lying down or in a seated position. Closing your eyes for this practice will help keep your focus inward.
1. Keep your legs uncrossed, arms relaxed at your sides, and breathe deeply.
2. Start by focusing on the toes of your right foot. Then move to your ankle, calf, knee, thigh, hip, then move to the other leg.
3. Slowly move throughout your entire body, noticing any sensations without judging them good or bad, then move on.
4. When you’ve considered everything from your toes to the crown of your head, visualize your body as a whole, and notice how this feels.
5. Finish with a few normal breaths, and gently bring your attention back to your surroundings.
6. Body scan meditation can also be used as a progressive muscle relaxation. Instead of just noticing sensations in each body part and moving on, you can tense each muscle or muscle group then actively relax it, picturing the body part being weighed down or melting into your chair or mat.
Body scan meditation can take as much or as little time as you want it to, and can be used in any situation. It can be especially effective for relaxing your body before falling asleep at night or when transitioning from work to home each day.
This can be a particularly useful MBSR technique if you’re in a high-energy situation and just need a minute to clear your head without taking time to sit down and decompress. A walking mindfulness meditation can help clear up cluttered thoughts and calm down your monkey mind so you can refocus and get right back to the task at hand.
There are many ways to do mindfulness meditation, but at its core, it is a way to help you stop worrying about the future or the past. This MBSR modality switches the focus to what’s happening right now, enabling you to be fully engaged in the present moment. This type of meditation can be achieved by honing your attention on the breath, a mantra, or the flickering light of a candle.
1. Sit comfortably but with good posture, on a chair or cross-legged on the floor.
2. Focus on a singular aspect of your breathing, such as the sensation of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling.
3. Once you’ve narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of thoughts and sensations within your body.
4. Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad, then release it and move on to the next one that arises. If your mind starts to race, gently return your focus to your breathing. Then slowly expand your awareness again.
MBSR techniques are very helpful tools to maintain your focus and calm throughout a hectic day. We’d love to have you come try our many classes to get you started on a routine of stress relief and familiarize you with these practices so you can be well-versed and use them on your own. Check out our schedule today and join us to begin your path to being centered, well-adjusted and happy in your life!