Whether you’re healing from illness, trauma, or other difficult times, these mindfulness stress reduction techniques can support your healing. The Congressional Prevention Coalition estimated that 90% of disease is caused or complicated by stress. People with higher ACES scores are more vulnerable to stress related illness. Therefore, reducing stress makes good sense for health from both a prevention and disease management standpoint.
5 Things You can do to reduce stress:
- Practice extreme self-care. Eat well. Make effort to try to improve sleep. (read my post on Meditation for Healing Sleep). Try to be mindful about what you feed your mind when you’re consuming information in news and online, and feed it things that cultivate wholesome mental and emotional states. Do things that feed your spirit. If you constantly feel too busy, practice saying, “No” more often.
- Practice mindfulness meditation for stress reduction. Studies show that practicing mindfulness can increase feelings of peace and wellbeing and decrease symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Practicing meditation activates the parasympathetic, or rest and repair, branch of the nervous system, which creates the optimal state in which healing can occur—body, heart, and mind. See my post on How to Meditate.
- Engage in creative expression. Studies have shown that being creative also activates the parasympathetic nervous system. When this part of the nervous system is activated, it creates an optimal state in which healing can occur. Try making photographs with your cell phone, writing in a journal, practicing writing meditation. , baking, knitting, hand-building clay, coloring, drawing, painting, woodworking, or any other creative adventure that you may like to explore. Let go of trying to do things perfectly, and just enjoy being creative.
- Savor simple pleasures. Seek out and savor simple experiences that feel pleasurable. The brain has a negativity bias, which means your mind pays more attention to negative experiences than positive ones. Savoring good experiences can help you to incline your mind toward focusing more attention on the positive ones.
- Try to focus more attention on what’s right with you than what’s wrong with you. When you wake up, name 3 things that are right with you and your life. As you move through the day, try to pause and reflect on what’s beautiful, what’s right, and what feels good. Ruminating about what’s wrong will likely cause you to feel worse. If you’re struggling with illness, spend time in the present moment to plan for your medical care and treatment, and then try to stop worrying about it. When your mind goes to worry, remind yourself that you’re spending time planning, and then bring your attention back to the present moment.
- Connect with nature. Yes, this, too, has been shown to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and calm you down, which creates an optimal state in which healing can occur. Notice the brilliant blue sky, sit in the shade of trees, spend time sitting by water if you have a body of water nearby, listen to the birds, savor the beauty of flowers, feel the wind on your face.
Quick stress management techniques to calm you down in a stressful moment:
- 3-Part Breath. Breathe in to the lower third of the lungs, then the middle third of the lungs, then the upper third of the lungs. Exhale. Repeat several times.
- Incorporate 3-Part Breath into your everyday – when you wake up, when you sit down at your desk to work, before you go to lunch, before you leave work, and when you lie down to go to sleep.
- Practice smiling. Studies have shown that smiling can reduce stress and may support heart health.
Here’s to healing and peace.