Stress has an effect on all of us, whether it’s the stress that comes with a demanding job, family issues, financial problems or anything else that wears us down in our daily lives. It’s no wonder that taking care of ourselves, both physically and mentally, can get thrown by the wayside when there are so many things about which to worry. The Canadian Mental Health Association recommends practicing meditation as a good way to combat stress and fortunately, there are simple meditation practices that can be done at any time during the day to help ground your thoughts and worries.[i] Meditation may conjure up images of sitting cross-legged on the floor while chanting, but in reality it can be practiced anywhere with ease and the results will help put any stress in perspective, allowing you to tackle problems with calmness and confidence.
Take a moment to notice your thoughts
The driving idea behind most types of meditation is the concept of mindfulness, paying attention to the present by noticing current thoughts and feelings and accepting them for what they are. Studies conducted in Norway and Australia have shown that the nondirective meditation, a form of mindfulness where participants focused on breathing while acknowledging any thoughts that pass through their mind, was the most helpful for stress reduction.[ii] Mindfulness is incredibly helpful when undertaking long-term projects or when forming new habits. For example, it is easy to begin a weight loss journey and automatically worry about the perceived long road ahead. Taking a moment every so often throughout your day to reevaluate goals as tiny steps rather than one large hurdle is a mindfulness technique that is very effective in relieving pressure and stress. The more you practice mindfulness, the more habitual this thought process becomes which is immensely helpful in all other areas of stressful daily life.
Disconnect from technology
Taking time to unplug from technology is essential for practicing mindfulness and other forms of meditation. If your phone or laptop is always with you, try beginning with 15 minutes without your devices and work your way up to an hour per day. It may feel alienating to be without a screen, but this will allow you to be fully present in your own mind. Instead of fighting the intrusive thoughts you might have about being disconnected, take notice of them and let them pass. Time away from technology will allow you to focus on your thoughts without distraction and provide clarity regarding what your body physically needs in the moment.
Find a practice that works best for you
Rethinking meditation is important when trying to find a practice that will ultimately become a habit for you. For many people, physical activity is a form of mindfulness, the sensation of being connected to your body is amplified when it’s purposefully moving around. Yoga and Tai Chi are deeply connected to meditation practice with a focus on deep breathing techniques listening to your body as you move through the various poses. For others, activities such as making art, gardening, knitting or praying have the same overall effect as intentional meditation. However you choose to practice meditation, it is important to make it a pleasurable experience that you’ll look forward to; this will practically guarantee that it will find a place into your daily routine.