What do massage, deep breathing, and Netflix binges have in common? They can all help relieve stress! Feelings of safety and tranquility are part of every human’s basic needs, and every culture and generation has developed their own way to achieve inner harmony. The most universal method is probably the one that’s also the most accessible: meditation! It helps decrease intrusive thoughts, can reduce anxiety, and actually can reap significant long-term health benefits.
If you’ve heard it works wonders for the body and mind, but the traditional “sit in lotus pose and do…nothing” vision of meditation leaves you cold, we have good news for you. There are tons of different meditation techniques, and you just need to pick one that suits you the most. You might be surprised to find that meditation can take place while exercising, taking a bath, and even eating!
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution – each option brings something unique, and some may feel more comfortable for you than others. That being said, there’s no right or wrong way to meditate, and it doesn’t take much time. Read on to learn surprising ways to meditate and you’ll be equipped to stay calm amid any storm.
1. Show yourself some love with positive affirmations
One of the most effective meditation strategies for beginners is to discover a steady mental focal point to concentrate on. If you find it hard to stop worrying about daily tasks or planning tonight’s dinner, mantras or affirmations will help you focus on one thing. Plus, they can empower and reassure you if you feel down.
For this technique, you need to find a quiet spot free of distractions and set aside some time. Five minutes will be enough for a start, and be sure to choose a soft melodic alarm tone so it doesn’t startle you at the end! Sit in a comfortable yet alert position, and keep silently repeating three or four appreciative positive phrases. Try “I am worthy,” ”I am proud of myself,” or ”I can do this.” Feel free to create your own affirmations! Be sure to breathe through the diaphragm (learn how to do it properly here) and feel your mind clearing and confidence enhancing.
2. Stay in the moment
Mindful meditation sounds simple: it’s a combination of breathing practices that cultivate awareness of body and mind. But it can be easier said than done! Sitting and trying to focus on the sensations in your body may be surprisingly challenging. At first, you might notice a flood of random thoughts about nothing in particular. That’s okay – your brain produces thoughts even while you sleep. The key is to allow your ideas to come and go. Then, try to gently redirect your focus to the present moment. Guided meditation audio with calm music is a must if you’re only just beginning. But don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you can’t focus right away. Incorporate daily meditation in your self-care routine, do it regularly, and you’ll undoubtedly notice positive changes.
3. Mindful eating: savor your meals
With our crazy schedules, we often try to do many things simultaneously while eating, like scrolling through our phones or answering work emails. Cooking and enjoying comfort food, on the other hand, may cheer up both you and your loved ones if you do it together, and mindfully, too!
Practice becoming more mindful about your food to build resilience to stress. Try to establish a healthy diet. Be present, chew slowly, pay attention to each small bite, and savor the taste. Mindful eating helps you be more in tune with your delicious meal, so you’ll enjoy it, and your time around the table with loved ones, much more.
4. Boost your energy with exercise
Physical activity decreases cortisol and increases endorphins, helping you feel happier and healthier. You don’t even have to go anywhere to get that boost! You totally can work out at home and practice anything you like, from pilates to kickboxing. “Moving meditation” through exercise is an amazing way to decrease stress.
When you’re under a lot of pressure, your body automatically reacts to it and can become strained and stiff. Help it relax and boost your mood by moving just a bit! You can add visualization to your daily workout to let go of troubles and worries. Imagine that you exhale stress, and it vanishes into thin air (literally).
5. Take a bath for ultimate relaxation
After a long stressful day, what’s more pleasant than chilling in a hot bath? Well, you can make this process even more mindful by incorporating guided breathing into it (and maybe have a glass of wine too).
Make sure everyone in your household knows you’re having some alone time and won’t interrupt. Create a relaxing environment by dimming the lights, or lighting a couple of candles. A fancy bath bomb isn’t necessary, but if you’ve got one, toss it in for additional aromatherapy benefits! Focus on the sensation of the soothing water on your body, feel any aches melting away, and enjoy a spa-like experience in the comfort of your home. Try making a mental list of things of good things that have happened recently, even if they’re small and simple!
6. Feel gratitude with a good night’s sleep
Resting your mind in the evening can be challenging if you’re stressed from your day. Getting quality sleep is so important because your sleep quality affects your mood throughout the next day and your health in the long run.
It’s worth investing in developing good sleeping habits, like setting a consistent sleep schedule and limiting the use of blue-light devices in the last hour before bed. There are also many practices that may help calm down your brain and let go of all the worrying thoughts. One of the most productive of them is gratitude.
The concept of gratitude is simple – you focus on recognizing all the things you have to be thankful for. Close your eyes, count as you calmly breathe in and out (which sends your body the signal that it is time to sleep) and think about all the good you have in life. Take your time to appreciate each thing. These positive feelings are often so powerfully calming that they can help you fall asleep.
7. Go for a walk
Walking is a great technique for those new to meditation. If you focus on not just the movement but on your state of mind, you’ll find the perfect combination of physical and mental benefits.
Manage stress by simply walking 20 minutes a day, paying attention to your body, and relaxing your mind. Try not to worry, plan something, or participate in an imaginary dialogue. Don’t move away from the moment! Acknowledge what you see and hear around you, but don’t let your mind wander; bring your attention to every step you take, and how it feels, instead. A mindful walk will leave you both energized and relaxed, and your mind will feel well-rested.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Remember that meditation can take many forms! If sitting on the floor isn’t doing it for you, try one of these alternative practices. It might be tricky to quiet your mind at first, but all you need is a little bit of practice. Soon, you’ll be able to play it cool even when things aren’t going smoothly.
If you’re looking for support in building a meditation practice, check out Daily Burn’s Everyday Meditations program. This five-week collection of guided meditations can be done anytime and anywhere and is perfect for anyone just starting out. Check it out here!