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Financial De-Stress – Week 6: Practicing Mindfulness

In 2021, we sent out this collection of de-stressing exercises to a group of clients over the span of 10 weeks in hopes that they might help alleviate the anxiety of debt as our clients moved through their programs. We received such amazing feedback that we wanted to make sure the rest of our clients had access to these 10 meditation, mindfulness, and awareness exercises as well! We’ll be releasing a new one each Monday morning, so check in at the start of each week for a brand new exercise.

This mindfulness exercise is a personal one based on similar experiences. For some, it’s debt. For others, it’s being tired of the job. And for a few more, it could even be a bad relationship.

Each one of these circumstances – and others like it – all have something in common. Stress is a slow burn. It builds out of the negativity that causes you to suddenly fume in traffic, curse out loud in the grocery store, or cry in your bedroom while watching a funny TV show.

It’s during those seemingly dark times when you can have an epiphany, namely if you practice mindfulness. During those times, you think carefully and realize, “Wait, this is my life?” Your life is so much more than the problems taking up your time. The time you spend now pales in comparison to the time you have ahead of you.

That’s the beginning of your attempt to bring mindfulness to your everyday life. That’s when you transform a question into an imperative shout. “This is my life!” So what are you going to do with it now?

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Step 1: A Common Routine

Identify something you do most every day. It is one of those tasks that don’t force you to think about solving a problem or plan for the future. If you exercise regularly or walk a pet, that is a perfect time. If not, maybe a repetitive chore you do around the house, cleaning, doing dishes, or folding laundry. You could even use one of those times you are mindlessly watching TV while dealing with the other stuff we just mentioned.

Step 2: Notice Your Body Movements

Begin a conscious experience by paying attention to how your body feels during this identified time. Take a minute or two to connect with the feelings of your entire body. How do the movements feel to you? If there are areas of pain or discomfort, don’t deny it or focus on them. Allow yourself to feel it along with all of the other sensations of your body.

Step 3: Feel Your Breathing

Stay aware of your body but now also let your awareness include your breathing. Follow the sensations you feel as your breath goes in and out. Don’t alter your normal breathing. Just experience it in the context of your body. This moment is all about your life.

There is no given length of time for this exercise. Just be mindful of getting the benefits of this practice, which will help you feel calmer, more precise, and less stressed after an aware period. The more time you spend in a mindful state and the more frequently you become mindful, the better you will become at it and the more likely the benefits will last longer.

PRO TIP: What if My Mind Interrupts My Mindfulness?

Don’t you hate it when that happens? Thoughts about your stressors and even your joys are inevitably going to pop into your mind when you least expect it. That’s okay. Just bring your awareness back to your body and breathing. The goal of mindfulness is to feel fine without words, to be with yourself in a moment.

If your thoughts continue to interrupt, some people find that repeating a simple phrase in rhythm with their breathing can help. And you already can guess what the operative phrase is, “This is my life.”

It is. Now, own it.

Join Our Client Sessions

If you’re interested in learning more about ways to stay motivated, cope with stress, and receive other support, contact [email protected] and ask to be invited to our “Join the Conversation” sessions. These private virtual sessions are specially designed as a safe space for clients in the Beyond Finance program. You’ll learn about different topics related to dealing with debt, meet other clients in the program, and participate in a Q & A session where you can ask our financial therapists anything you like.