Mindful exercises and tips to increase your mental health

By Rachel Lucas-Thompson

Sometimes life can become stressful and difficult to manage. It’s important for your well-being to handle these stressors in positive ways. Try to catch your breath with these tips.

  1. Woman sitting in her office facing a window meditating.B- BODY – when you are under stress (maybe right before an exam?) take a quick scan of your body. Starting with your feet, and going all the way up to the top of your head, focus on each part of your body one at a time with mindfulness. Where do you notice feelings of tension or lightness? Coolness or heat? Restlessness or calm?  Allow these sensations to be there without judging them or trying to push them away. Remember you can always return to your BREATHE or your BODY to stay focused on the present (instead of worrying about the past or the future).
  2. R- REFLECTIONS – practice mindfulness of thoughts. Consider a short guided meditation that can help you notice the thoughts in your mind coming and going, and let them pass.
  3. E- EMOTION – mindfully notice your emotions. Ask yourself, “what am I feeling in this moment?” Allow the feeling to be there without resisting it or avoiding it. Emotions are just a kind of energy in the body that ebb and flow like waves in the ocean. Learning to surf the waves of our emotions can help us build inner strength.
  4. A- ATTENTION – attention to body, thoughts, and emotions is good stress reduction! Practice mindfulness of all of these sensations with a mindful walking exercise. As you walk to your class, simply notice the sensations in your body, thoughts you are having, and emotions you are feeling. Acknowledge. Allow. Repeat.
  5. T- TENDERNESS – learn the practice of self-compassion. This website has some great guided meditations and exercises to reduce self judgement and enhance your feelings of tenderness toward yourself- you deserve it!
  6. H- HABITS – make mindfulness a habit by taking small moments of your day to focus on your breath, your feet on the floor, practice mindful walking, or mindfully notice your thoughts or emotions.

Rachel Lucas Thompson is an associate professor in the CSU Department of Human Development and Family Studies and director of the Family Relationships and Development Laboratory.