4 simple steps to quickly de-stress

If I had the opportunity to meet you for 5 minutes in your life today and share one helpful evidence-based tip, this would be a mindful pause technique to encourage you to “take a mindful pause every now and then”.

A Mindful Pause is a brief mind-body exercise that can be used anytime and anywhere. No-one even has to know you are giving this to yourself. A mindful pause can help you to shift gears when you might feel wrapped up in your thinking about something. A mindful pause helps you to settle your attention in the present moment. Not be stuck in the past. Not fortune-telling the future. But rather being awake to the present moment; a golden moment in time.

Why? Whatever happens in this moment influences your next moment. If you’re not paying attention to what’s happening in your life now it’s likely you may not even realise that you’re ruminating on something that happened a few days ago and missed the opportunity to hug your spouse, beloved pet or children at the end of the day because your mind was somewhere else. Or maybe you’ve been mindlessly eating more than you needed for lunch whilst feeling stressed and tuning out with reading your latest Facebook newsfeed.

So often I hear from my clients that a “go with the flow” or “I don’t know” attitude predominates on important matters in their lives and they aren’t even sure why they think and/or behave this way. The goal of a mindful pause is to be more awake and alert to what is happening in your life in 4 simple steps:

1. Pause:

Stop what you are doing. If sitting, sit upright in a dignified and self-supporting posture i.e. try not to slouch or lean. If standing, stand upright and uplifted in posture. Be aware of what is happening. Take a moment to take note of seeing, hearing, body sensations, thoughts, emotions. Notice what you like, dislike or any vagueness or spacing out. Simply observe, acknowledge and register your experience, even if it is unwanted. Come home to this moment. The essence of the pause is being aware of your present moment’s experience, however it is.

2. Let go. Find your body:

Redirect your full attention to your body including the points of contact of the body with the ground and/or furniture, clothing and temperature. Feel the support of the contact places of the body, the feet, the buttocks, the back of the thighs, the hands, the lips, the eyelids. Feel the direct experience of the sensations, touch, pressure, softness, firmness, warmth or coolness. Open to the sensations and your physical experience throughout the whole body.

3. Breath:

Direct your attention to your breath. Feel each in and out breath. Let it be in its own natural rhythm. No need to change it in anyway, it’s just fine the way it is. Your breath and body serve as the ‘anchor’ to your present moment awareness and stillness.

4. Open up:

Expand the field of your awareness around your breathing, so that it includes a sense of the body as a whole, your posture, and facial expression. Open up to all senses as you move into your life.
At first you can try a mindful pause in the quiet of your home to get a feeling for it. As you gain confidence you can use it to pause in the middle of your day or in the face of a stressful experience. After you finish you ask yourself one question, “what do I need right now?”, then simply make the next best choice for you and move back into your activities.

Take a mindful pause every now and then in your own life today and see what you notice. It’s a way to step out of our robot mode, our overthinking mode or our reactive to strong emotions mode.

A mindful pause can reconnect you to the present moment and help to highlight what is real and important to you.

If you are interested in further information and/or practice of this simple yet effective technique in your life then feel free to book an appointment with one of our experienced psychologists at Attuned Psychology to find out more.

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