Last post talked about the negative effects of too much stress. This post will give you one easy to implement exercise aimed at reducing cortisol levels.
But first, a word on Mindfulness!
Mindfulness is a practice that encourages one to be present, nonjudgemental, aware and accepting of his or her feelings, body, thoughts and surrounding environment. To be mindful is a life long process and is sometimes easier to achieve than at other times. However, there are many ways to practice and to get stronger at staying aware.
Below is a simple exercise to calm your mind and feel a more balanced presence taken from Mindfullness and Psychotherapy by Christopher K. Germer.
Disclaimer: At first, this may feel weird to do. However it really might help you. I invite you to try it when ever you feel overly stressed.
Mindfulness of Emotion in the Body:
Start by finding a comfortable position, close your eyes fully or partially, and take 3 relaxing breaths.
- Locate your breathing where you can feel it most easily. Feel how the breath moves in the body, and when your attention wanders, gently return to feeling the movement of the breath.
- After a few minutes, start to notice physical sensations of stress that you're holding in your body, perhaps in your neck, jaw, belly, or forehead.
- Also, notice if you're holding any difficult emotions, such as worry about the future or uneasiness about the past. Understand that every human body bears stress and worry through out the day.
- See if you can name the emotion in your body. Perhaps a feeling of sadness, anger, fear, loneliness, or shame? Repeat the label a few times to yourself in a soft, kind voice, and then return to the breath.
- Now choose a single location in your body where stress may be expressing itself most strongly, perhaps as an ache in the heart region or tension in the stomach. In your mind, incline gently toward that spot as you might towards a new born child.
- Continue to breathe naturally, allowing the sensation to be there, just as it is. Feel your breathing in the midst of your other body sensations.
- Allow the gentle, rhythmic motion of the breath to soften and soothe your body. If you wish, place your hand over your heart as you continue to breathe.
- When you're ready, open your eyes.