The Frederick
Douglass Academy

May is Mental Health Month: Reduce Stress by Being Present - A DeStress Monday Practice

May 16, 2022
Reduce Stress by Being Present - A DeStress Monday Practice

Mindfulness is simply being fully present in the moment, and aware of what you’re doing and where you are. It’s the act of paying close attention to your thoughts, feelings and sensations as they’re happening. It’s taking note of your surroundings. Mindfulness is a simple, effective way to reduce stress because it stops you from reacting to or feeling overwhelmed by distractions and pressure.

Using mindfulness exercises has been proven to help distance you from concerns that don’t necessarily affect you right now, yet are causing stress.

For example, if you have a looming deadline you’re worried about, you may notice after a session of practicing mindfulness that the deadline will happen in the future, yet it’s causing needless anxiety right now. Being present is an opportunity to recognize unnecessary stress. In fact, it may even help you to be more productive.

One of the best ways to become more grounded in the moment is to just pay attention to the sensations of your body and the environment around you. A good way to start is by focusing on your breath. Try this simple mindfulness practice:

  1. Start with some deep, simple breaths. This will naturally prepare you to relax by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure.
  2. Place your awareness on your breath, inhaling and exhaling normally through your nose.
  3. When thoughts arise, simply label them, “thinking” or “wandering” to yourself, and return your awareness to your breath. It’s natural for thoughts to arise, but the exercise here is to return to mindful breathing.
  4. You can practice mindful breathing for as little as 30 seconds or up to 20 minutes. It’s entirely up to you and what fits your needs.

When you finish being present for a few minutes, you can re-enter the world relaxed and prepared to approach your responsibilities with a fresh perspective.