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Mindful Self-Compassion and MBSR for Depression and Anxiety: 9 Techniques for Stress Management

Dealing with stress can pose many challenges. Adding to the complexity is the fact that individuals encounter stress in unique ways. Find out some useful techniques on stress management.

A man wearing blue blouse and red tie feeling stressed

Managing stress can be incredibly difficult, especially when you have a lot going on. What makes it even trickier is that everyone experiences stress in different ways, so coping mechanisms are not a one-size-fits-all solution.

However, one technique that’s proven to be effective in coping with stress is the use of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). Although originally designed for stress management, MBSR is now used for treating a variety of illnesses, including anxiety and depression. In fact, studies have shown it’s as effective as certain antidepressant drugs. So, if you’re looking for ways to cope with stress, mindfulness can help.

What is Mindfulness and Why is it Important?

Mindfulness is all about being in the moment—focusing on the present while attempting to calmly acknowledge and accept your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It’s about taking a moment to detach from the business of daily life and focus on how you’re really feeling.

Mindfulness has the ability to help you regulate your emotions and achieve a sense of mental clarity and focus. It can help you gain emotional intelligence by allowing you to learn how to accept your own emotions as well as the emotions of people around you. It can help you do so without judgement and deal with it constructively.

Most importantly, however, mindfulness is an excellent tool for stress management. It allows and encourages you to be at peace with yourself and explore your emotions with compassion and calm. It also helps you to develop a sense of self-awareness, which is key in managing your stress and anxiety.

9 Techniques for Stress Management

The good news is that although stress and anxiety can make it tough to function at your optimum, there are many things you can do to try to alleviate it.

A lady doing meditation on a blue yoga mat
Regular meditation can provide you mental clarity and stress reduction.

1. Meditation

The aim of meditation is to find a sense of calm within yourself, as well as a deep feeling of mental clarity. By meditating regularly, you’ll be able to reduce stress and improve your overall mental wellbeing.

To effectively meditate, find a quiet and calm place where you feel comfortable. Close your eyes and put all your focus on your breathing. Or, if that doesn’t work, try to focus on something else that normally makes you feel relaxed.

During this process, you’ll have thoughts enter your mind—don’t try to get rid of them. Simply allow them to flow freely and without judgement.

2. Exercise

It’s no secret that regular exercise is great for mental health. Your body releases happy hormones after exercising, making the best and most natural way to relieve stress.

Best of all, exercise doesn’t need to be an intense workout every day. In fact, it may just be a bit of movement, whether it’s going for a walk, dancing, or hitting the gym.

In addition, exercise helps you sleep better and it relieves tension, both physical and mental, so exercising can help in all spheres of your life.

3. Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is an essential part of managing your stress and anxiety. It allows your body to heal and recharge and it gives you time to relax and renew your energy. Going to sleep is also a good time to practice mindfulness, both when you are trying to fall asleep and when you first wake up.

A lady sleeping on the bed with blanket on her
Sleep is important in helping our body rest and relax.

4. Deep Breathing

If you find that you’re feeling particularly anxious in the moment—perhaps you’re having an anxiety attack—the first thing you should do is focus on your breathing. Breathe in deeply through your nose and out your mouth. Focus on the air moving through you, filling your diaphragm and leaving your body.

Better yet, try to imagine your stress leaving your body as you exhale.

5. Be Social

Sometimes, when you’re really stressed, battling feelings of inadequacy, or facing personal challenges, it helps to reach out to the people in your life who make you feel calm and comfortable. It often requires some deep thinking and mindfulness in itself to decide who these people are. Remember, not all friends are great with dealing with these emotions.

Whether it’s friends, family, or a partner, reach out to whoever it is and try to share how you’re feeling. Or, if you don’t want to talk about it, try to enjoy the time you spend together and focus on how you make each other feel rather than the negative and all your stress.

6. Focus on Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

Mental health is dependent on all aspects of your life, and the healthier you are, the happier you’ll be. That means physical health (both diet and exercise) and just maintaining your overall health so that you can confidently say that you’re looking after yourself.

If you’re living a healthy and balanced lifestyle, you’ll have a routine to focus on when you’re struggling with stress and anxiety.

7. Relax

Some people find it difficult to relax, but it’s really important that you give yourself time to chill out and recharge.

Of course, relaxing means something different for everyone. Some people may feel relaxed when they’re at home, alone, and doing absolutely nothing. However, for others, relaxing may be going for a run or hanging out with friends. We all recharge differently, but as long as you’re doing it and actually feeling relaxed afterwards, you’ll be fine.

A lady looking into the mirror and smiling to herself
Embracing a positive mindset is the key to conquering stress and unlocking inner resilience.

8. Positive Mindset

It can be incredibly difficult to stay positive about everything, all the time. But as long as you focus on having a generally positive mindset, you’ll make it significantly easier for yourself when you’re feeling stressed or down.

If there’s anything you feel shame and guilt around but shouldn’t, try to work on those areas too. The better you feel about yourself and your lifestyle, the less stressed you’ll be.

9. Good Time Management

Time management is really important when it comes to being able to successfully get everything done without being constantly stressed about meeting deadlines.

If you plan out how you’re going to use your time, you’ll be able to be far more efficient and you’re more likely to get everything done. And, you’ll be able to get it done properly!

Seek Help If You’re Not Coping Alone

Mindfulness based stress reduction is an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety. However, if it’s not helping you enough, never hesitate to seek professional help. Sometimes, we need a bit of assistance, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

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