Stress is the way we think, not the way we are…
It has been scientifically proven that stress, unless managed in an appropriate way, can affect all aspects of our life — our thoughts, mood, emotions and behavior. However, eliminating stress totally, is an Utopian goal. There will be some or the other stress at all points, in all ages.
What are the common stressors
“Common” labelled stressors include :
- Financial difficulties.
- Relationship stress
- Major life events like marriage.
- Career — unemployment, promotion issues, job location, education, etc.
- Loss of a close one.
- Illness or injury
- Children leaving home — Empty nest syndrome
No matter how small or serious the stressor is, managing it scientifically is the concern.
Out of the many stress reducing techniques, I will be talking about how “Mindfulness” is used for reducing stress.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.
Since the 1970s, therapists have been using mindfulness in treating depression, anxiety, PTSD and negative stress reactions.
Mindfulness therapy works so well because it makes people aware of the self and surroundings. They can slowly relate to the positive energy around them which impacts on the health and mind, thereby reducing stress. Scott Fantucchio, LMHC said “Stopping the negative is good, but replacing it with something positive will lead to better emotional health and stress management.”
How mindfulness is used for reducing stress :
Before starting mindfulness, make sure to :
Select a posture : which may be sitting or lying or standing. This must be done carefully depending on the person’s comfort and physical condition. If someone is tired or sick, it is better to use a sitting or lying posture.
Sitting posture: sit at the edge of a stable chair with legs put down and feet resting on floor. Shoulders should drop and hands to be rested on the knees.
Standing posture: stand with feet apart as much as shoulders with your back straight.
Lying posture: lie down straight with back resting on the bed and chin held upward. Put arms by the side and legs straight.
Select a place: Find a place with less distractions. It may be bedroom, sitting room or any other place devoid of televisions or other electronic gadgets.
Select a time: Catering the daily schedule choose a time to practice mindfulness. It can be any time.
- Mindful breathing — Allow the breath to flow free. Do not try to control it. Keep breathing and stretch the arms horizontally with every inhale and exhale. Repeat for a minute and notice the changes you feel.
- Mindful observation — Select any natural object. A flower, the sky,birds, insects—-anything and just observe it as it is. Don’t do anything except just looking at the object and let yourself be consumed by its presence and movement. Visually explore the object– its color, movement, activity and allow yourself to connect with its positive energy.
- Mindful listening –– Select your favorite music and play on a low volume that is soothing to the ears. Slowly, the music would start bringing feelings and memories. Let the mind wander if it wants to. Try to pull focus towards the song, listen to the variations of the tunes and lyrics. Notice how you feel after that.
- Mindful awareness and appreciation — There are many things that happen everyday and are left unnoticed and unappreciated. For example, be thankful to get food everyday, thank the postman for getting you the mails or just appreciate nature the way it is. It brings positive vibes and lets you focus on what you have. Remember that Alyssa Mairanz, LMHC said “Worrying does not accomplish anything except feeling terrible.”
- Mindful Immersion — Pay attention to the small activities you never notice (like making coffee, ironing clothes, cleaning the house, etc… Sense your body as you do them, feel the muscles and your breaths. It allows to get a new experience out of the activities we do everyday.
It is also best to seek professional help if necessary. Maria Basualdo, MS, BA (Hons), LMHC says “Beyond any other peripheral query, therapy is all about “why” and by turning the focus inward, we can undrape cloaked truths, disguised in allegories.”
So choose to see the good in things and focus on the positives, as Carl Gustav Jung rightly said ,”It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.”