There’s no question stress can have a negative impact on your life—it can put you in a bad mood, amplify aches and pains, and wreak havoc on your sleep. Recent studies have linked stress to low productivity at work and high blood pressure. But there’s good news in the battle against bad stress, researchers have discovered mindfulness activities can help reduce some of those harmful effects.
“You don’t have to completely overhaul your daily routine to beat stress and live better,” says Arianna Huffington, who recently tapped several leaders in the field to create Thrive Global, a destination for wellness and healthy living advice. “Incorporating simple mindfulness measures into your day—even for just a few minutes, can make all the difference.” Here, three experts from the Thrive Global advisory board offer solutions to help ease stress. Try them, and start feeling better now!
1. Meditate: Start a simple routine of mindfulness meditation. Set aside just a few minutes each day for a regular meditation practice. If you have a Fitbit Charge 2, the Relax feature is a great place to start. Or, consider an app that guides you through your practice and reminds you to make that time each day. “Brain circuits engaged by mindfulness meditation are associated with meta-awareness — our awareness of being aware,” explains Dr. Richard Davidson, founder of the Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Thrive Global expert advisor. The result is an enhanced ability to monitor, or observe, the world around you. “Monitoring function is critical because knowing that you are aware enables you to have more intentional choice in how you react to the opportunities and challenges you face.”
2. Reflect: Take a couple minutes everyday to think about what’s going well in your life. Ali Rezai, MD, Thrive Global advisor and Director of the Neurological Institute at Ohio State University, explains his approach to daily reflection: “I try to find a quiet environment, relax my mind, take a step back, and refocus myself […] every day, when I get out of bed, I take a few minutes to clear my mind. I take a few minutes and think about those things that are constant and unchanging in my life: my family, my passions, and the larger reasons I chose to spend my life as a scientist and a neurosurgeon.” As busy people who are pulled in so many directions throughout the day, it is important to take a moment to process your life and workload independently to discern your thoughts and ideas.
3. Give: Find small ways to be generous. A simple act of giving allows you to disconnect from your own life and to-do list and be mindful of the impact you have on the people around you. “When you ask people around the world what they value most, one answer consistently rises to the top. It’s giving to the people who matter to us,” explains Adam Grant, Ph.D. who is a Professor of Organizational Psychology at Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and New York Times bestselling author. He goes on to suggest that giving to someone else can be as simple as making an introduction. “When I look back on the moments that fundamentally changed my life, the vast majority began with quiet and generous introductions.”
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.