On Your Health

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Quick Meditation Techniques to Curb Stress

In his “Art of Happy Living” podcast, Dr. R. Murali Krishna of INTEGRIS Mental Health explores the healing connection between your mind, body and spirit. Whether at home or at the office, taking a few minutes each day to meditate can help you make this connection, easing your stress and increasing your productivity.

Which type of meditation is best for you?

Everyone responds differently to various meditation techniques. Knowing how you typically handle stress can help identify the relaxation techniques that may work best for you.

Do you become agitated or angry when you’re stressed out? Calming meditation techniques will benefit you the most.

  • Mantra meditation. Slowly repeat a mantra (i.e., “I am in control of my life”) with your eyes closed and body relaxed.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. Slowly tense and release one body part at a time, starting with the toes and working your way up through the legs, stomach, hands, arms, shoulders and face.
  • Deep breathing. Inhale deeply through the nose and exhale for several seconds longer than normal.
  • Visualization. Close your eyes and imagine yourself at a relaxing location (i.e., on the dock of a quiet pond) while envisioning all the details and sensory elements of that location.

Do you tend to become depressed, withdrawn, or scatterbrained when stressed? Try more stimulating relaxation techniques.

  • Massage. Treat yourself occasionally to a professional massage, but if this is not in your budget, even having a loved one rub your shoulders or scratch your back can have a significant stress-relieving effect.
  • Mindfulness. Be hyperaware of yourself or your surroundings. Dr. Krishna defines mindfulness as “the art of paying attention to the present moment with intention, openness, curiosity and without judgment – a willingness to accept what is.”
  • Yoga or Tai Chi. Practicing active forms of stress relief can boost your mood and help you focus on the positives in life.

It’s not just “one more thing to do”

While simply relaxing in front of the television is always a nice way to end the day, actively practicing meditation techniques can help you better enjoy your time at home and feel fully present when you’re with family and friends.

Don’t think you have the time? Taking a few minutes during your commute or in the middle of the work day to meditate can actually help you to refocus so you can accomplish the things on your to-do list more efficiently.  Take one minute or take 15 -- however long you can set aside to refocus and relax -- and you’ll reap the benefits.

Meditation techniques at work

  • Go for a short walk, whether outside or just around the office. Breathe in some fresh air and give yourself a few moments of privacy without the distractions of emails or phone calls.
  • Take notice of your posture. Are your shoulders hunched? Are you slouching? Simply sitting up, stretching your back, and rolling your shoulders a few times can relieve stress.
  • After you return from lunch, take several deep breaths before you begin working again. Inhale through the nose and exhale slowly to release tension. Physically shake out your hands and feet.
  • Listen to nature sounds while you work. Apps and playlists abound for listening to the sounds of nature, such as ocean waves crashing, rain falling on a tin roof and birds chirping.
  • Practice mindfulness. Spend a few minutes to take inventory of the sights, sounds and smells around you. While your office surroundings may not be exciting, the simple act of looking up and noticing things can help relieve stress.

Record the positives. Keep a running note on your desktop where you can write down things you’re grateful for, or simply acknowledge positive occurrences as they happen.

meditation while commuting

Meditation on your commute

Of all major metropolitan areas in the United States, Oklahoma City has the shortest average commute. Workers here spend about 20.7 minutes driving to work each day. Still, those 20 minutes are the perfect time to do a quick decompression session before your day begins: yes, even in traffic.

Start your commute by taking a few deep breaths as you get into your car. Try turning off the radio. Driving in silence with no commercials or constant changing of the radio station can make you a safer driver, and it can help clear your mind. Being alone with your thoughts and simple observations -- the sunrise, the sky, the trees (don’t forget the cars around you) -- can do wonders for your stress level.

Meditation for a simpler life

Meditation shouldn’t be viewed as just one more thing on your ever-growing to-do list. Spending a short time each day consciously relaxing can help you complete your to-do list and have a more positive attitude. “Start slowly in exploring how to reapportion your life. Make changes gradually, but deliberately,” says Dr. Krishna.

Try a few of these techniques this week and see how your work week improves.

For more on how to be healthy at every age, check out our Stages of Life archives.

stages of life adult mental health

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