meditation tips for recovery

4 Techniques for Reducing Stress Through Mindfulness

Published on December 24, 2019 by First Responder Wellness

The practice of mindfulness and meditation has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason.  Mindfulness techniques have been shown to have a wide array of physical and mental health benefits, in addition to the spiritual connection many people experience while utilizing this ancient wisdom.  One of the most powerful and immediate benefits of mindfulness is stress reduction. By learning mindfulness techniques, individuals experiencing high stress due to their job, home life, or poor mental health will be able to create pockets of relief in their day, and eventually move towards a more mindful way of living.

Mindful Breathing

Every meditation practice begins by focusing on the breath.  Our breath is a powerful tool that can regulate our emotions and anchor us to the present moment.  You can practice mindful breathing anytime you can find even just a couple minutes to yourself. Start by slowing down your breath, breathing in for around three seconds, and breathing out for the same amount of time.  Breathe in through your nose and out your mouth, allowing your body to relax a little more with each exhale. As you focus on your breathing, try not to dwell on other thoughts. You will most likely be bombarded with thoughts of things you need to do, or incidents from earlier in the day, but it is important to let thoughts come and go without consuming you.  The more time you have to breathe in silence, the more you can hone your focus and create more space between your thoughts. It can also help to notice the sensations of breathing, such as the temperature of the air and how it feels as it enters and exits your lungs. With each exhale, let go of your worry and anxiety, and feel the weight of stress lifted off your shoulders.

Body Scan

Using the body scan technique to practice mindfulness is a great way to get out of your head and become grounded.  You can start by finding a quiet place to sit or lie down, and it can be helpful to begin with mindful breathing. Once you feel yourself beginning to relax, bring your attention to one part of your body.  The order is not too important, but most experts favor starting at the soles of your feet and working your way up. Spend a few breaths on each part of your body, noticing the sensations in that area and releasing any tension you might be holding there.  Many of us are completely unaware of areas of our body that are affected by stress, but by using the body scan technique, you can methodically relax every muscle and let go of pent up stress.

Active Mindfulness

Some new practitioners of mindfulness complain that meditation and mindfulness techniques require time and quiet spaces they simply don’t have.  The good news is that active mindfulness allows you to practice being present during any activity, especially those that we usually consider a mundane part of our daily routine.  You can practice mindfulness while washing the dishes, driving, or taking a shower. We often let our minds wander while completing these types of activities, and a wandering mind often settles on thoughts motivated by worry and anxiety. Try using all five senses to take in your surroundings while you go through these familiar motions, such as noticing the smell of the dish soap, or the feeling of the steering wheel on your hands.  By slowly and deliberating completing every action and noticing every sensation, you can anchor yourself into the moment and give your mind a much-needed break from stress. 

Meditation

Meditation is the ultimate form of mindfulness practice, but the idea of meditating can be confusing and intimidating to those who have never tried.  Just by completing any of the techniques above, however, you are already well on your way to becoming an experienced meditator. Meditation usually involves remaining mindful for longer periods of time, and might require a bit of research or training to grow in the practice.  There are many resources available to those who would like to learn to meditate, including endless books and smartphone apps. Meditation can be a powerful tool for improving physical and psychological health, and may help some individuals overcome mental illness and addiction.  If you believe you or someone you love may be suffering from addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder, a holistic treatment program can help.  

The First Responders Treatment Program at Simple Recovery uses trauma-informed strategies to cater to the unique needs of law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental illnesses.  We recognize that first responders encounter job-specific barriers and obstacles that come with the culture of their careers, and that existing stigmas may make seeking help for addiction and mental health issues especially difficult. Addiction does not have to mean the end of your career or a lifetime of struggling with your health and relationships.  By taking a holistic approach to treatment and addressing the underlying causes of addiction, Simple Recovery makes it possible for first responders to regain control of every aspect of their wellbeing. First responders dedicate their lives to protecting their community, and at Simple Recovery’s First Responder Treatment Program, we believe in dedicating our time and expertise to helping these compassionate individuals find a path to lasting sobriety and mental wellness. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, call us now at 888-743-0490.