Like it or not, it happens to the best of us. Frustration, anxiety, and stress are totally normal human responses to those day-to-day challenges or responsibilities that might be weighing on you. And while we can’t seem to do much about when, where, how, or why these emotions affect us (it’s tough), but there are certainly things we can do to better cope with and learn from them.
The most important thing when it comes to dealing with stress is trying to minimize the amount of things that stress us out on a regular basis. To that end, there are already plenty of big things that might stress us out – our jobs, our relationships, etc. – so it’s important not to let some of the smaller stuff – a skipped workout, a not-so-healthy dinner – get to you too much. To that end, we’ve gathered some mindfulness tips to help you deal with negative emotions and find peace of mind even in times of crisis.
Slowly eat a grape
Okay, grapes can be substituted with any food, really. (The operative element here is not so much the grape, but the slowness of – and mindfulness around – eating it.) That said, we chose grapes because of their small size, unique texture, and juiciness. Before you deliver one to your mouth, observe the color and smoothness of its skin; notice the way it breaks when you bite down; savor the taste as the juice spreads on your tastebuds. Take your time with this process and try to get in touch with all of your senses as you snack. The experience will help you feel like you’re in the moment, and will allow you to clear your mind for a bit.
Let out a yawn – even if it’s fake
Yawning relaxes your facial muscles and temporarily disrupts your thoughts. Even if you’re not sleepy, opening your mouth wide and simulating a yawn might trigger a real one. When you’re feeling tense and stuck on a negative thought, it could be just what you need to take the edge off. (But maybe don’t do it when you’re in a meeting with your boss or something –– that will probably just create a totally stressful situation on its own.)
Stretch your eyes
During waking hours, our eyes are in constant motion, trying to help us perceive and navigate the world. We rely on them to do so much for us, so it’s no wonder that they often feel tired and strained by nightfall. During the day, it’s important to give your peepers a break: fixate on something up close (an item on your desk, for example), then on something really, really far away (a building in the distance, perhaps), then alternate between them. This is the optical equivalent to stretching your sore muscles and can do wonders for your focus and your eye muscles.
Breathe, breathe, and breathe
Yes, we do this little thing every day, but when was the last time you’ve actually thought about or paid attention to your own breathing? (Fun fact: an average adult breathes about 15 times per minute, which amounts to approximately 21,600 breaths per day. That is no small feat.) The point of this exercise is to transform a familiar, routine task into a new experience. Put a hand on your chest and feel it rise and fall; try not to focus on any particular thoughts and simply notice the rhythm of your breathing. Doing so will re-center your mind and root you in the present moment.