3 mindfulness tips for stress reduction

Nov 30, 2015

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

Sometimes, freelance life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Your friends who work a “typical 9-5” might be jealous (or imagine) that you can start work at noon, break for a 2pm yoga class, and wear yoga pants as you return calls.

But the reality of freelance life can often look much different – picture piles of deadlines, money stress, difficult clients, and working way more than 40 hours a week.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed lately, then it might be time to try self-care.

Many of my therapy clients and workshop participants think of self-care as their weekly yoga class or monthly massage or annual beach trip.

All of these things are great, but what about reducing stress on a daily basis?

Mindfulness – being aware of the present moment – can help.

Mindfulness sometimes gets confused with having an empty mind or sitting in silence for 20 minutes twice a day. For many of us (myself included!), this may not be practical.

Mindfulness can be practiced in moments in stolen moments as we commute, before a big meeting, and when we wake up in the morning.

You may be wondering – how do I start? Where do I start? What do I do?

Here are 3 quick ways you can practice mindfulness, starting right now:

1. Sound your breath.

While sitting or standing, take a deep inhale. Imagine you can fill all the way down to your toes with air, then release the air on your exhale with a sigh or a sound.

Any sound is good. If you’re standing, imagine that your feet are rooting you into the ground, like a tree. With each exhale, you plant your roots and feel the ground underneath you a bit more.

This can help you ground physically into the present moment and into the physical space that you’re in (you can do this exercise anywhere – work, home, subway).

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2. Listen to music mindfully.

Put on a favorite song/instrumental piece. Wear headphones or earbuds if you’re in a loud place. Allow yourself just to listen, without simultaneously checking your email or answering a text.

Notice any thoughts or feelings that come up. Notice the melodic line in the music, or the sound of each instrument, or the speed of the piece. Be in the present moment with the music.

3. Just pause and notice – for 1 minute.

Set a timer on your phone for 1 minute. Then notice – tune into your breath, your body, and your mind.

Notice the inhale and exhale each time you breathe, any tension or tightness you may feel in your body, and any thoughts moving through your mind.

Just allow yourself to be present to whatever you notice, without rushing to judge or fix it. Allow yourself this minute of pausing the hustle.

It may not sound like a lot, but a little bit of mindfulness every day can go a long way. As stress peaks at the holiday season, why not give yourself the gift of mindfulness?

Maya Benattar, LCAT is a music psychotherapist with a NYC-based private practice. She is passionate about mindfulness as a tool to reduce anxiety, improve self-awareness, & encourage gentle self-care. You can find her at www.mayabenattar.com or @mayabenattar where she blogs & tweets frequently.