Calm in the storm: Useful techniques to help you reduce anxiety
In today’s fast-paced world, managing stress and cultivating inner calm has become a modern necessity. One of the ways to do so is to practise mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) – a holistic approach that fuses the tranquility of mindfulness meditation and the gentle fluidity of yoga. It offers a method to tackle life's twists and turns with poise and resilience1.
Pioneered by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, an American professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, MBSR has gained considerable recognition for its ability to reduce anxiety and elevate overall well-being2.
The following MBSR techniques can be used to help shape self-awareness and emotional resilience, transforming everyday life into a more mindful, purposeful journey.
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Body scan meditation: Your body's wisdom When you are stressed, your body automatically reacts by tensing up its muscles. Constant stress leads to body aches and stiffness. Body scan meditation provides a guide on how to systematically become aware of your body’s sensations part by part, revealing tensions that often go unnoticed. Regular practice can even unveil subtle signs of anxiety. Being more aware of your body’s subtle cues can lead to improved mental health outcomes and a decrease in stress.
Mindful breathing: Harmony in breath Mindful breathing, a cornerstone of MBSR, anchors the mind to the rhythm of your breath, providing a grounding experience amid chaos. This simple yet impactful technique teaches you to be present in the moment, replacing any anxiety-filled monologues with a balanced response3.
Loving-kindness meditation: An ode to compassion Loving-kindness meditation, also known as "metta" meditation, encourages an outpouring of compassion and goodwill towards yourself and others4. Practising metta dissolves isolation, a common companion of anxiety, and replaces it with connection, empathy, and self-acceptance.
Walking meditation: Dancing with life Ideal for those who often feel restless, walking meditation combines the grounding physicality of movement with the mindful presence that lies at the heart of meditation5. This active form of meditation encourages you to step into life fully, using each step as an anchor to the present moment.
Mindful yoga: The mind-body symphony Mindful yoga weaves together the elements of physical movement, breathwork, and mindfulness6. This dance of the mind, body, and breath offers a refuge from anxiety, fostering a state of well-being that extends beyond the yoga mat.
Mindful eating: A feast for the senses The ordinary act of eating can become an extraordinary sensory experience with the practice of mindful eating7. This approach to nourishment encourages a deep appreciation for the simple act of eating and the complexity of flavours. A conscious connection with food can curb emotional eating, nurture self-compassion, and transform eating habits.
The magic in consistency
The effects of chronic stress and anxiety can extend beyond the mental realm, impacting physical health and even financial stability. For example, some people react to stress through impulse shopping or ‘stress spending’8, which may provide some temporary gratification, but leads to unnecessary financial stress later when the credit card bill comes.
By learning to navigate stress through MBSR, one can improve overall health and make more mindful decisions – including financial ones.
Your journey into MBSR can be as simple as attending a course, joining a meditation group, or turning to guided meditation apps or online resources. Remember – the path to enhanced well-being is not a sprint but a consistent jog. Much like developing physical strength, regular mindfulness practice can lead to lasting changes in brain structure and function, fostering a greater emotional resilience and a more balanced mental state3.
Ultimately, mindfulness-based stress reduction offers a powerful, evidence-based approach to managing stress and enhancing well-being. Integrating MBSR practices can usher in self-awareness and emotional resilience. By harnessing the benefits of mindfulness, you can unlock a more centered, peaceful, and fulfilling life.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2013). Full Catastrophe Living (Revised Edition): Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. Bantam Books.
Khoury, B., Lecomte, T., Fortin, G., et al. (2015). Mindfulness-based therapy: A comprehensive meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 37, 1-12.
Tang, Y. Y., Hölzel, B. K., & Posner, M. I. (2015). The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16(4), 213-225.
Salzberg, S. (2011). Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation. Workman Publishing.
Thich Nhat Hanh (2015). How to Walk. Parallax Press.
Pascoe, M. C., Thompson, D. R., & Ski, C. F. (2017). Yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction and stress-related physiological measures: A meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 86, 152-168.
Bays, J. C. (2017). Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food (Revised Edition). Shambhala Publications.
The information provided in this article is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors’, reflect the authors’ judgment as at the date of the article and are subject to change at any time without notice. United Overseas Bank Limited (“UOB”) and its employees make no representation or warranty whether express or implied, and accepts no responsibility or liability for its completeness and accuracy or your reliance on the same. Please consult a medical professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health, physical fitness or medical conditions.