5-Day Stress Detox | Day 1: Rise Be Mindful in the Morning Starting every day with a de-stressing, mindfulness ritual will set the tone for the next 24 hours — all the way through your bedtime.
The key to not freaking out every time an email from your boss pops up in your inbox or your toddler screams for an irrational reason is getting ahead of that stress. One of the most effective tools to do that is with a simple mindfulness exercise.
Just ask Jesse Israel, founder of The Big Quiet, a mass meditation movement. “When you practice meditation, a handful of physiological changes occur,” he explains. “Dopamine and serotonin pump through your system, your blood moves more fluidly, your digestive system operates more smoothly.” Your brain also responds positively: Your amygdala, which is responsible for the body’s stress response, starts to chill out and your prefrontal cortex - which Israel calls the brain’s CEO - lights up so you’re better able to focus and access creativity. All of this is to say, meditation majorly reduces stress.
Sounds like a good way to start your day, right?
Israel recommends doing a focused body scan first thing in the morning - if you can find 5 to 10 minutes alone, in a quiet place. It’s a way to ground yourself by tuning into your body and feel the calming, restorative mental effects that it can have. Even better if you can set an intention for your day at the beginning, such as “acceptance” or “generosity.”
Here’s how to do it:
- To begin, sit comfortably with your back supported and close your eyes.
- Bring your attention to your feet, notice your toes, notice your shins, see if you can notice the skin on your kneecaps.
- Notice your thighs, your hips, notice gravity pulling you down into your seat.
- Notice your lower back, upper back, where your shoulders meet your neck, releasing any tension you feel in your neck, bringing your attention to the back of your neck, top of your head.
- See if you can notice any sensations on your scalp; your eyebrows, cheekbones, jawline, lips.
- See if you can notice the weight of your tongue in your mouth; moving your attention to your nose, notice the air moving gently in and out of your nostrils as you breathe.
- Take a minute to breathe at your own pace, feel the air moving in and out; slowly open your eyes.
Now notice how you feel: there should be a greater presence, a sense of being grounded in your body, you might feel calmer.
Sometimes, though, you don’t feel those effects and Israel says that’s ok - you’re still getting the restorative benefits of the meditative exercise. If you find your mind starting to wander, gently bring your attention back to the part of the body you’re focusing on; it doesn’t mean you’re bad at meditation, he says, it’s a human response so be easy on yourself. You’re still reaping the benefits.
As with any new habit, be patient with yourself - these things take time and you probably won’t be able to do them all at once. But taking one small change a day consistently will add up to a lot of stress-relief in the long-run. It’s all about incremental, slow, meaningful growth.
Believe in yourself, and remember that you are worthy of this effort - self-love starts with today, and these tools and tips are part of the journey.