Below is the main four stress reduction activities I discuss in session. Many can be added to this including exercise, diet and stress-reducing conversations. However, these are important skills to counter the build-up of stress and maintaining a sense of mindfulness.
Breathing exercises can include Box Breathing as we practised (In for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, out for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds) or other exercises such as the following relaxed breathing technique.
1) When you are first learning this breathing relaxation exercise you may find it easiest to practice lying flat on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor and 20 centimetre’s apart. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen.
2) Hold your breath and count to 10. Then breathe out and think’ relax’ to yourself.
3) Then inhale slowly through your nose for 3 seconds. The hand on your abdomen should rise whilst the hand on your chest should stay relatively still.
4) Then exhale through your mouth for three seconds, making a whooshing noise as you breathe out. Think “RELAX” as you exhale. The hand on your abdomen should fall as you exhale.
5) After a minute of breathing in and out in a six-second cycle, hold your breath again for 10 seconds Keep repeating this process for 5 minutes.
6) Once you feel you have mastered the technique lying down, then start practising slow breathing whilst sitting or standing. Then you will be able to do slow breathing to relax wherever you are in public.
Do this deep breathing for 20 minutes a day and any time when you feel yourself becoming anxious. Depending upon your commitments you might need to break up your 20 minutes during the day into 4 x 5 minutes relaxation segments or 2 x 10-minute relaxation segments.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive Muscle Relaxation is focusing in on a muscle group and tightening those muscles for up to five seconds then a quick release is used to relax the muscle group for 10 seconds. A sequence to follow can be hand, forearm, shoulders, neck, chin, eyebrows, chest, stomach, legs, feet. Watch the following video for more information and guidance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYsuvRNZfxE.
‘Mindfulness’ means paying attention to the present moment. Practising mindfulness can help you cope with everyday life and deal with tough times. Mindfulness is about focusing on the present and living in the moment. When you practice mindfulness, you don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future.
There’s a lot of evidence that mindfulness can help you to:
• clear your head and slow down your thoughts
• be more aware of yourself, your body and the environment
• slow down your nervous system and aid your sleep
• cope with stress, depression and anxiety.
Simple ways to practice mindfulness
You don’t need a guru to be mindful – in fact, you can develop mindfulness during regular activities like walking, driving or even doing something as basic as brushing your teeth. Here are some simple ways to become more mindful:
Focus only on the present moment. What is happening to you right now? Is your breathing fast or slow? Are you tired? Are you hungry? How do you feel?
Concentrate on what’s happening around you. Do you feel hot or cold? What does the air feel like on your face? What sounds can you hear?
Try not to be judgmental about anything you notice. Don’t label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Just notice them and let them be.
Mindful meditation involves sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing or a word or phrase you repeat quietly. Allow your thoughts to come and go and try not to judge them. When your mind starts to wander, gently lead it back to your breathing or the word or phrase you’ve chosen. You can practice mindful meditation by yourself, or if you want some guidance, try using the Smiling Mind app
Power stances & resilience building
For more information on reducing stress through body language and power poses please visit https://jamesclear.com/body-language-how-to-be-confident and https://blog.ted.com/10-examples-of-how-power-posing-can-work-to-boost-your-confidence/.
For more information on resilience building through simple tasks please refer to this video https://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_the_game_that_can_give_you_10_extra_years_of_life or purchase this app, https://www.superbetter.com/