By Your Headspace Mindfulness & Meditation Experts
It’s inevitable to experience stressful moments throughout the day, but it’s how we deal with stressful moments that may be most important. From traffic and technology to work and relationships, there is a never-ending list of stressors that bombard most of us on a daily basis. A calming meditation can be incredibly helpful.
This short meditation can teach you how to notice what you’re holding on to and how to drop the preoccupying storyline, allowing you to reframe stressful situations. Nothing can ever change the circumstances, but a shift in perspective can transform the experience of stress. This exercise is largely focused on accepting what is happening to your mindset, and developing an awareness that helps us to let go of negative emotions.
When negative energy from stress steals our focus, it can be degenerative to our mental health. Stress can contribute to causing and exacerbating conditions such as anxiety, depression, OCD, inflammation, and more. Marcos Economides, a cognitive neuroscientist, explains that when stress goes untreated, “It can lead to headaches, weight gain, muscle tension, sleep problems, reduction in sex drive, and a lot more.”
We live in a culture where many of us receive notifications and alerts from our mobile phones multiple times an hour (if not every minute!). The majority of the time these alerts are not positively affecting our mental health, as it can seem like there is always someone or something pulling our attention away from being mindful and present.
Stress doesn’t always stem from the outer world, and more often than not it actually begins within our own minds. Consider a sports competition, for example, where a buildup of eagerness and pressure to succeed can take complete control over our mental state. Too much stress and strain can lead to burnout and failure. Instead of obsessing over the outcome, visualize success and befriend healthy anxiety. As Dr. Jenn Bennett explains, “our central nervous system doesn’t recognize the difference between imagined success and reality, so visualization can be a useful skill to develop.” Practicing a calming meditation can provide a foundation for an effective imagery experience, which is one of the most powerful tools to overcome stress.
As with most things in life, the real power comes from our reaction to situations. How can we take control of a stressful moment and deal with it in a way that doesn’t result in a downward spiral, affecting the rest of our day? Calming guided meditations can help ensure our minds are prepared to respond from a place of calm and mindfulness.
Guided meditations can be instrumental in learning to manage stress. While all mindfulness meditations are designed to help develop awareness around our state of mind, there are specific meditations offered in the Headspace app that focus on stress and anxiety. All the techniques used in the app incorporate elements of both “calming” and “insight” meditations.
No matter the type of stress you’re experiencing, a calming meditation incorporating a walk in nature can do wonders for your wellbeing. “Walk Off Frustration” (available in the Headspace app) is an 8-minute walking meditation where you will walk through whatever is frustrating you by speeding up and slowing down your pace, letting your thoughts rise and fall away so that you can get back to a calmer, more balanced state of mind. This is a great option when receiving a stressful email at work and opting to take a walk around the block to reset.
Another guided meditation we can all relate to is the 3-minute “Losing Your Temper” meditation. Take a deep breath and let go of whatever is causing causing anger or frustration. Allowing yourself to focus on the anger, then releasing it, is imperative to eventually calming down.
The idea of letting go of stress entirely can seem idealistic to many, but the truth is when it’s done with a conscious effort, it’s entirely possible to regain control over your thought processes. The Headspace meditation course “Letting Go of Stress” (available to subscribers only) includes 30 sessions to develop awareness of stress and learning how to reframe negative emotions. The course includes body scans and visualizations to truly get to the root of stress that manifests in the body, and then visualize what your days look like without the added weight of stress and anxiety.
When you’re ready, press play on Headspace’s 10-day beginner’s course on mindfulness basics — available with your membership or free trial. Jump into your new practice with the essentials. Then explore hundreds of exercises for sleep, stress, focus, and more.
Be kind to your mind today and every day. Start with a free trial of Headspace.
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