How to use Mindfulness to relax? 5 key ideas
Jul 16, 2021
Stress is a natural and adaptive response of our body to all kinds of mundane tasks in which we need to be smart to face them. A little tension is ideal to be able to solve day-to-day problems, both family, work and social.
However, it is no mystery that sustained stress causes us discomfort, attracts mental disorders and makes it difficult for us to live a full life. If it is a high stress but manageable on its own, Mindfulness meditation can help us for it.
But, How to use Mindfulness to relax? Here we will talk a little about this question and we will look at five fundamental mundane actions to de-stress ourselves through mindfulness.
- Related article: "What is Mindfulness? The 7 answers to your questions "
Keys to know how to use Mindfulness to relax
We live in a world where in order to (over) live and prosper we have to constantly go from here to there. The hustle and bustle of day to day, coupled with the bombardment of the media in all kinds of messages that make us believe that to be successful in life you have to be busy 24 hours a day makes living stressed at all times the “life” style of our modern century XXI.
But in reality that is not living, it is living badly. Having a little stress from work, family or the current world situation is a natural response of the body that prepares us for deal with issues where we have to be wide awake in order to move on and overcome them, if it is in our hands. Instead, having constant and pointless stress for problems that we either cannot solve or that are part of life can bring us discomfort on a mental and physical level.
The causes of stress and the one that maintains it can be many, but among them can be something so simple and seemingly banal as the fact of not leaving time to ourselves, that is, not relax. In the same way that to have a toned body we have to exercise or to pass an exam we have to study, not to live so stressed we have to get down to work, and the best way we have for this is to use relaxation techniques, including Mindfulness.
Mindfulness has been in vogue for years. Also called mindfulness, it is a form of meditation that integrates Eastern Buddhist teachings with Western scientific evidence on relaxation techniques and emotional well-being. This technique arises from the combination of the scientific aspects of psychology with those of a more mystical and exotic nature of the religions of the Asian continent. The effectiveness of science and the calm of the New Age manages to relax us.
The idea behind this technique is simple. It considers that our mind is a machine to generate constant thoughts automatically and without being reflected, the which are increased in the society we live in due to the constant bombardment of stimuli from different media and tracks. Being so aware of the outside, which overwhelms us and stresses us, we forget ourselves and stop for a moment, make the machine rest even for just a moment.
Mindfulness meditation reduces stress by becoming aware of our mental processes, helping us to stop in our tracks thoughts that do us no good and that, if they become obsessions, could attract mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. It has many other scientifically proven benefits, among which is enhancing our cognitive abilities by means of increasing gray matter, improving working memory, verbal reasoning and even fostering creativity.
Mindfulness and relaxation: a practical guide
Just by mentioning some of the benefits that Mindfulness has, it is clear that it is a highly recommended tool for our emotional, physical and even social health. However, how to use Mindfulness to relax? They are a lot of little daily actions in which we can practice mindfulness. Some of these changes will bring benefits in the short and long term, but the important thing is to be constant and dedicate between 5 and 15 minutes a day because its effects are cumulative, making stress increasingly easier to handle.
1. Breathing is key
The mantra in all relaxation techniques is to be aware of how we breathe. It is not surprising, since breathing is key, nourishing us with oxygen. Although we breathe constantly, we almost never do it consciously despite the fact that it brings many benefits, including relaxation.
Just look at the way we breathe for a minute. We only need that time to find the connection with our body, ignore any stimulus from our environment and focus on the activity we are doing.
A simple breathing exercise would be the following: breathe slowly and deeply through the nose, noticing how the air enters and reaches the abdomen. Once the lungs are full, we pause holding the air for about 8 seconds to slowly release it through the mouth.
Easy right? Let's repeat this same exercise as many times as we deem necessary, being aware at all times of the entrances and exits of the air and the physical sensations that it brings us.
- You may be interested in: "8 breathing exercises to relax you in a moment"
2. Focus on an object
Both the oriental meditation on which Mindfulness is based and this tool itself aims to leave our mind blank to focus on the here and now. This is, in theory, the ideal, what we would like to achieve, but it is certainly very difficult if we do not have any tasks to do, such as cleaning the house, walking or exercising.
Fortunately, there are other alternatives that serve us both to stop the constant thread of thoughts and to give us a a bit of calm and tranquility by simply focusing our attention on an object in our room or the place where we are let's find. Let's focus on the shape, color, position, where it was bought and other aspects related solely and exclusively to that object..
For example, let's imagine we have a ficus plant in our garden. Let's look at how the leaves are, the color of the earth, the type of pot in which it is found... all aspects that, however banal and simple they may be. It seems, they will give us calm and serenity, a repellent of the negative thoughts that appear in our consciousness to the minimum that we have nothing with which occupy it.
3. Identify emotions
This exercise is directly related to the previous one, although doing just the opposite. If in that case we were looking for an object on which to focus our attention to prevent negative thoughts from appearing, in this exercise we will do just the opposite: we will look for them.
Yes, it sounds counterproductive, but there is a reason for it.. The only way to get rid of negative thoughts and learn to manage them, preventing them from causing the stress with which they are associated, is to effectively keep them in mind. Do mental shock therapy.
Let's find a time when we can be alone without any distraction. Let's try to leave the mind blank. Difficult right? All kinds of thoughts come to our mind and with them associated emotions. Let's identify them and write them down on paper, let's be aware of what they are, what thoughts and what memories they evoke.
People live a wide repertoire of emotions that pose a burden in our day to day if They are very negative and a product of stress, but this does not mean that they cannot be managed or remove. In case they can be reduced or disposed of, we will have to take them into account, give them a name, analyze them and find a solution.
Mindfulness is living in the present, just the opposite of thinking about the past and worrying about the future, without However, we will not be able to live in the present if there are problems that can be solved but we still have on the list of pending.
In case they are problems that cannot be solved and that are part of the past, recurring thoughts that sprout up in our minds like weeds, let's get used to them. If there is no possible solution, why bother? Concern should move us to find a solution to something, but if that something does not have it then that concern is not adaptive or functional.
4. Become aware of the body
Emotions can be hidden in the conscious but manifest in the physical through bodily sensations, some unpleasant and uncomfortable. Mind and body are related and, if one is sick, the other is also.
Before reaching the extreme of mental disorders, our body already warns us that stress that we suffer is harmful, causing back pain, tremors, stomach aches, tingling, tics ...
At the very least that we do any of the above relaxation exercises, especially that of breathing, we will notice how these unpleasant sensations are reduced. If this is the case, it will mean that our body was so tense that it has begun to psychosomatize and that these sensations were indeed the result of stress.
In case they do not begin to remit even when calm and meditating, it would be appropriate to consult a doctor about what it may be. Also, we must understand that our mind and body will be healthy as long as we go to a psychologist and others health professionals, but that Mindfulness can be a good strategy to protect ourselves from problems organic.
5. Pay attention to the little things in everyday life
Finally, we are going to discuss some day-to-day actions in which we can apply mindfulness and that will help us relax. Basically any daily task in which it is not necessary to think too much helps us to put Mindfulness into practice, which is nothing more than being aware of the task we are doing and the physical sensations associated with it.
For example, being cleaning the dishes instead of seeing it as another task to do or even something heavy, let's try to enjoy the moment. Let us feel the water between our hands, the touch of the sponge, the delicacy of the dishes, the cylindrical perfection of the glasses, the smell of soap and any sensation that this so mundane scene of our lives can give off.
We can also apply it to personal routines, such as our beauty and sanitation ritual. While we shower, we notice the changes in temperature, the smells of the shampoo and body wash, the noise of the drops of water falling on the floor. Later, when we dry ourselves and go to comb our hair, we notice how the comb makes the hair change direction and massages the scalp.
They are all daily actions but what do we have so automated that, sometimes, it seems that we are not even doing them. Let's take a minute to feel them, to savor them, to live them. It is true that noticing the shower or washing the dishes is not going to take away all the stress that we may feel in a normal day, but it will certainly reduce it.
- Álvarez, M.L. (2013). What is Mindfulness. 2017, from the Official College of Psychologists of Madrid.
- Bertolín, G.J. (2014). Efficacy-effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program: update. Rev. Asoc. Esp. Neuropsiq, 35, 289-307.
- Didonna, F. (2011). Mindfulness Clinical Manual. Bilbao: Desclée de Brouwer, S.A.
- Simon, V. (2010). Mindfulness and psychology: present and future. Psychological information, 100, 162-170.