March 25


Mindfulness for Stress Reduction

March 25, 2024

Mindfulness for Stress Reduction: Strategies to Find Calm in Chaos

Reviewed by Dr. J.-M. Assaad, psychologist & Dr. L. Zozula, psychologist on March 20th, 2024

Chronic stress can have an array of negative effects on the body, so if you regularly feel overwhelmed and experience the symptoms of stress, then looking into ways to reduce stress will benefit your health, both mental and physical.

Mindfulness and meditation are techniques often recommended for their impacts on the effects of stress, but what are they? In this article, we're going to take a closer look at mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques, what they are, and how they can help you reduce stress in the long term.

What is Mindfulness? How Can It Be a Therapy for Stress?

Mindfulness is a practice that encourages a heightened awareness and presence in the current moment. It involves deliberately bringing your mind to the present through a range of techniques, including controlling thoughts and bodily sensations or simply paying attention to what is around you.

Mindfulness is considered a brilliant therapy for stress. In fact, when coupled with talk therapy, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), it can have a profound effect on those struggling with chronic stress. 

Benefits of mindfulness for stress include:

  • Activating a relaxation response
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Restructuring the mind and learning to challenge negative thought patterns
  • Regulating emotions and acknowledging emotions without being overwhelmed by them
  • Better focus and concentration
  • More mindful practices throughout life, including eating, breathing, and moving more mindfully

Mindfulness Strategies for Stress Reductions

Mindfulness brings the mind back to the present moment, helping to reduce stress. Since chronic stress can lead not only to mental conditions like anxiety disorders but also to physical health problems, learning mindfulness techniques can have a positive impact on your well-being.

Find out about some of the most popular mindfulness techniques below.

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Guided Meditation Practices

Guided meditation practices are brilliant for beginners. A guided meditation generally refers to a meditation where an instructor guides you, usually via a prerecorded session. Once you've gotten the hang of meditation, you might find that you use guided choices less and less.

However, if you're looking to get into meditative practices, below are some fantastic guided options that you can find on YouTube, meditation apps, and other audio-based spaces.

  • Meditative breathing: This kind of meditation focuses on your breathing. It can include counting the breaths or just simply being aware of your breathing and bringing the focus back to it every time your mind strays.
  • Body scan meditations: A body scan meditation is used to bring awareness to the physical body. You usually start at the bottom, feeling the sensations in your toes, acknowledging how they feel and what is touching them, like your socks or the floor, and then you work your way up to your head. This brings you firmly into the present.
  • Observing thoughts: Another kind of meditation is where you observe thoughts as they come to mind, acknowledge their presence, but do not become attached to them. It is akin to watching clouds pass by in the sky and teaches you that thoughts do not need to overwhelm you and arm you against allowing negative thoughts to take over.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Breathwork has its roots in practices like yoga, Tai Chi, and the Buddhist religion, but it is commonly used by those practicing mindfulness, too. Deep breathing is incredibly beneficial in activating the body's relaxation response, which can lower cortisol levels and help you feel calmer.

Below are some simple breathwork techniques to try out in your mindfulness practice.

  • Box breathing: Sometimes called Square Breathing, this kind of breathwork means inhaling for a count of four, holding it for four, then exhaling for four, and holding it once more for four.
  • 4-7-8: The 4-7-8 technique requires you to inhale for a count of four, hold it for a count of seven, and then exhale through the mouth for a count of eight.
  • Elongated exhalation: A simple elongated exhalation, where the out-breath is longer than the in-breath, can help to trigger the body's relaxation response.
  • Diaphragmatic Breathing: This technique means breathing deeply with your hand on your diaphragm. You feel the expansion of the abdomen and then contraction as you exhale, making your breaths slow and rhythmic. This kind of breathing is common in breathing meditations.
  • Alternate nostril breathing: A practice called Nadi Shodhana; in this practice, you block the right nostril and inhale through your left, then close the left and open the right to exhale from this nostril. The process is then repeated in reverse.

Grounding Techniques

While deep breathing and meditation can be grounding practices, there are also specific grounding techniques you can try when you feel overwhelmed. These include the following.

  • 5-4-3-2-1 Technique: This practice means naming five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. It engages the senses and brings you back to the present.
  • Rooting Visualisation: This technique asks you to envision roots coming from your body and extending into the ground, offering you stability and strength.
  • Affirmations: These are simple sentences spoken out loud or in your head that can remind you that you are safe and present. They can be as simple as "I am grounded, calm, and in control."

PsyVitalitï and Stress Management

Dealing with chronic stress alone can be incredibly isolating, but there are things you can do. At PsyVitalitï, we're committed to supporting those struggling with stress and helping them find ways to deal with it.

We offer a range of therapies for stress that can help you overcome these feelings and learn to deal with them when they resurface. Therapies include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A short-term therapy, CBT helps you to identify and deal with negative thoughts and patterns.
  • Counselling: This kind of therapy is often used when people are dealing with specific situations and need support through them.
  • Psychotherapy: This therapy form is usually a deeper practice and can help you figure out why you might be feeling heightened stress.
  • Student wellness: Are you a student? Are you struggling with stress? We offer student wellness services to support you.

Ready to take the next step?

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Final Thoughts

Stress can have long-term implications for your physical and mental health. Mindfulness is considered a brilliant form of therapy to help reduce feelings and stress and manage negative thoughts when they arise.

If you are struggling with stress, remember that PsyVitalitï offers a wide range of therapy services both online and in-person. We can support you, helping you unlearn negative behaviours and even find the cause of the stressful thoughts. Contact us now to find out more about how we can help you deal with stress.

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