The biggest issue facing most of us these days is stress and mindfulness meditation exercises can help.
Women and men are pressured to do more and be their best every day both at work and at home with our families. Deadlines, projects, meetings, extracurricular activities, home care, aging parents – these are all things that put the average working parent on constant high alert.
Stress Wreaks Havoc On Our Body
The human body has evolved to deal with much shorter bursts of intense stress when the hormones cortisol and adrenaline serve to prime our bodies for immediate survival (fight or flight).
Since our society and environment have changed very drastically in a very short amount of time (evolutionarily speaking), our physiology hasn’t been able to catch up.
These days, your average chronic stressors last too long, leading to sustained high levels of cortisol. Cortisol, in an attempt to help you survive in the short-term, down-regulates many processes of the body, such as digestion, reproduction, and mood.
That’s why during prolonged periods of stress, people tend to develop digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, and depression or anxiety.
A Natural Way To Reduce Your Stress
When removing stressors 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. There are herbs and nutrients that can definitely help, but mindfulness meditation exercises are a terrific tool that is too often overlooked.
Studies have been performed that demonstrate the benefits of mindfulness-based meditation. It helps reduce depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, digestive issues, and chronic pain.
Mindfulness-based meditation is a skill that anyone can learn, doesn’t require any resources, and has the power to help you cope with stress.
In essence, mindfulness is the quiet, non-judgmental awareness of your body, and it’s connection to your mind. There are many different ways to meditate, but even the simplest mindfulness meditation exercises are effective.
Recently at the Whole Life Expo media preview in Toronto, we were walked through one example of a simple meditation, which I incorporated into the style that I typically use and teach my patients.
Try this simple meditation method, 5-10 minutes every day, and you will reap the benefits of reduced stress, better mood, relaxation, and the ability to better cope and communicate with your world.
A Mindfulness Meditation Exercise
- 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.
- Place your hands, palms up, on your lap.
- Close your eyes and start taking slow, deep, measured breaths, inhaling through the nose, exhaling out of the mouth. Try to equate the lengths of the inhales and exhales
- You will count 20 such breaths by using your thumb and fingers. Look to the diagram for help. Do this with both hands at once:
- 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
This technique allows you to stay connected to your breath, maintain your mind in the present moment, and relax your body and mind simply by counting your breaths. Using your fingers in this manner allows you to count almost passively.
When the weather is good, doing this sort of exercise outdoors in nature will compound the health benefits. Natural spaces can also help reduce stress and anxiety, as well as elevate mood – even in the city, places like the Toronto Botanical Gardens will work.
P.S. Here are another 10 mindfulness techniques for moms.