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When we find ourselves in stressful situations, it can be difficult to ground ourselves back to a state of awareness. The good news is that there are ways to combat feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress through mindfulness. These tips and tricks are taken from The Mindfulness Toolbox by Donald Altman.

Everyone experiences stress at some level. The way you respond to stress is key to your overall wellbeing.

Stress is a common experience for many individuals. You are not alone if you find everyday activities overwhelming and hard to complete. One tool for mindfully combatting stress is taking a stress pause. Taking a stress pause is helpful anytime you feel stuck in an old habit or routine. You can take a stress pause by using the S-T-O-P acronym— Stand, Tune-in, Observe, and Possibility.

S - Stand: Slow the pace by standing in place and taking two or three nice, calming, deep belly breaths. By doing this, you are making a conscious and purposeful decision to slow things down. You are deciding to be in control, rather than let external pressures trigger you to reaction and stress.

T - Tune-In: In this moment, tune-in to your body with full presence. Feel yourself grounded and connected to the earth, just like a favorite tree. Slowly scan the body starting from the tips of the toes and moving up to the top of the head. As you move upwards, be aware of where you may be holding onto tension or negative emotions. Breathe into the tension and let it go. Optionally, you can visualize breathing a soothing white or golden light into that tension-filled area. Then as you exhale, imagine your breath carrying the tension down the body— finally releasing it through the bottom of the feet. Take as many breaths as needed to release tension and negativity.

O - Observe: Change the channel by closely observing your external environment. Focus on the surroundings, taking note of at least three unique or pleasant things— colors, shapes, objects, sounds, or textures that you like. If you are in a familiar environment, look for even the smallest detail you may not have noticed before— like the space between the wood grains on the table, or the different shades of color in the carpet. Just immerse and ground yourself in your surroundings like this for a minute or two as you find something that delights or surprises you.

P - Possibility: Pause to reflect on the openness, spaciousness, and possibilities that lie before you. You have just gone off auto-pilot and are now free to choose a new and beneficial direction. If you had been feeling reactive or angry, for example, you can look with fresh eyes at the variety of different choices and options before you. Who says that right now you couldn’t sing, smile, call a supportive friend, take a nice walk, or get a scoop of your favorite ice cream?

You might even just feel pleased that you have completed this exercise. Stretch your mind and see how far it can go!

Try out this technique and more in The Mindfulness Toolbox by Donald Altman. Self-awareness helps guide us to wholeness. You got this ladies!

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