If meditation doesn’t work for you, try mindfulness.
As an orthopaedic surgeon and a mom, I am no stranger to stress. I try and meditate as much as possible, but with the fast pace of life, sometimes it just isn’t realistic for me. The other evening, I caught myself with a free moment and found myself stressing out about things that didn’t even matter. Things in the future or past. Things that don’t technically really exist, especially in the moment. And it hit me then and there, that I wasn’t being mindful.
Meditation is an amazing tool for stress relief and self-reflection, but I have found that in times of high stress, meditation is the last thing you want to do. So if meditation isn’t your ‘slow jam’, I encourage you to try mindfulness instead.
Mindfulness just simply means assessing your surroundings, and consciously being aware of your place within them. We often run through our lives on auto pilot, not actually paying attention to what is going on, how we feel about it, and how it is effecting our mood.
In those moments of anxiety, if you take a few seconds to step outside yourself and think about the precious few seconds you are actually living, it can snap you back into the present.
You can appreciate what is in front of you instead of worry what is behind, or ahead of you.
You can reclaim your mood (in as much as you can control your mood).
Then, you can choose to partake in activities that will support your mindfulness, such as the following:
Singing. Especially if you are in your car, singing can be very cathartic, and help shift your mood. Something about expressing yourself in this way melts away the stress. Just don’t be afraid to belt it out, even if you don’t sound like Barbra Streisand, she has masseurs to relieve her stress. All you have is a 15 minute car ride to work.
Crafting. Although crafting with your kids can be stressful on its own, creating something is a great way to be more mindful. Whether you spend your time making a scrapbook, repairing holes in your kids’ clothes, or gardening, it will help get your head straight. Knitting and crochet are two great options, too.
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Exercise. I can’t stress enough how important it is to take long walks. If you are stressed out, turn off your phone and just keep walking until your problems are solved. The physical activity of moving without being attached to your phone will do wonders for your mood.
Adult coloring. I know a lot of adults who use coloring books to relieve stress. I know that sounds crazy, but even though we aren’t all artists, we all yearn to create. Adult coloring books make it super easy, and the act of staying within the lines with help you do the same thing mentally.
Journaling. Writing in a journal is BY FAR the most under-rated way to relieve your stress. I know most people think it isn’t for them, but it can change your entire life in terms of being mindful. So here are some tips; don’t worry about making mistakes. Just cross them out. Don’t censor what you say. If anyone ever reads bad things about themselves, it is their fault for invading your privacy. Don’t edit what you write, or judge yourself for your feelings. Just write, and keep writing until you figure out why you were so stressed out in the first place.