Are you driven, Type A personality? Highly competitive? Always battling the clock? Often impatient? These may be the very characteristics that contribute to your success. But they can also be qualities that drain your energy and make you susceptible to stress-related illnesses.
We obviously can’t change who we are. We can’t alter our personality type, no matter how we try. But we can take steps during the day to manage our stress, reduce our anxiety and keep our energy levels strong.
Here are three suggestions for exercises you can do anywhere at any time:
- Breathe: Yes, this seems obvious, but most people forget the value of contemplative breathing as a means of reducing stress. If you find yourself feeling stressed, try the following steps:
- Find a place where you can sit alone for a short period. If you’re in your car, find a shopping mall and park at the outer end of the lot. Place your hands on your stomach and close your eyes.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, feeling your stomach expand.
- Exhale slowly, again through your nose.
- Repeat this exercise 15-20 times.
- Practice mindful walking: We tend to walk with purpose, often multitasking as we head from one place to another. But a great way to reduce stress is to become mindful as you walk.
- Pay attention to each step as it hits the earth.
- Coordinate your breathing with your steps.
- Listen, but don’t react, to the sounds around you. Just stay focused on each step and each breath.
- Try guided imagery. Being in the woods or a forest is often a great way to reduce stress. But it may not be convenient for you to take time off to find a quiet, wooded area. Again, find a place where you can be alone for a few minutes. Get comfortable and do some deep breathing. But this time, imagine yourself walking through a rich forest or perhaps on a beach. Perhaps you have a favorite place that you can recreate in your mind’s eye. Take yourself to that place, even if only for ten minutes.
We know from research that mindfulness practice reduces stress while improving mental capacity and productivity. These exercises are a simple way to work mindfulness practices into your daily routine with minimal disruption. Just always remember to breathe!