Frequently in life we are faced with stress and anxiety. But what’s stress for one person may not be for another, and that’s because we all handle stress differently. MBSR is a technique to help you alleviate stress and quell low-level anxiety while improving your health and well-being.
What is Stress?
Stress is our natural and normal response to the challenges that arise in our lives. A more formal definition is a physical, mental or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. These stressors can be external (environmental, psychological or social) or internal (illness).
Our Bodies Reaction
Many times, when we are stressed our bodies engage the “fight or flight” response which is a complex reaction of our neurological and endocrinological systems.
This response includes the bodies release of hormones and causes immediate physical reactions. Some of the most common reactions can include accelerated heart rate and lung action, slowing of digestion, shaking, and constriction of blood vessels for muscles.
Symptoms of Stress
The effects of excessive stress can manifest in the body in a variety of emotional, behavioral and even physical symptoms.
Here are some of the more common symptoms we see:
Sleep disturbances including insomnia or sleeping too much
Changes in eating habits (overeating or under eating)
Loss of enthusiasm or energy
These symptoms can also be caused by other medical and/or psychological conditions.
Why Practice Mindfulness?
Practicing Mindfulness is one of the best ways to put space between your mind and the reactions we have to events. By cultivating a sense of present moment awareness, we can observe the thoughts that arise in the mind and view them as something to be noticed, but not necessarily responded to or identified with. When we quiet the mind, we are able to view out thoughts as they relate to ourselves more deeply giving us the ability to have more clarity about ourselves and who we really are.
Your Are Not Your Thoughts
Understanding that we are not our thoughts helps us to see with more clarity that our thoughts aren’t necessarily true. When you develop the ability to put space between your mind and thoughts it changes your relationship with your thoughts. You have the ability to watch them come and go without reacting to them.
Stress is Inevitable. Suffering is Optional
Stress is inevitable in our lives, but we don’t have to suffer believing we have no alternative. Practicing Mindfulness provides us a lifeline to working with our stress as an opportunity instead of a threat. Through this lifeline of mindfulness, we are able to adaptively cope with situations that we deem to be challenging, stressful or threatening.
Learn to Respond Wisely Instead of Reacting
Mindfulness provides us with a set of coping skills that change the way we see and react to stressful events in our lives. These coping skills allow us to “respond wisely” to a situation instead of reacting. Reacting usually occurs without thinking and can be a gut reaction
Learn to Pause
Mindfulness allows us to pay attention to our minds and how we react to situations when something triggers us. This is when you want to pay close attention to how your mind is reacting to a situation.
When triggered, just pause. Take a moment and breathe, don’t react, but wisely evaluate the situation before you respond. It may take a few seconds before you respond, or you may want to remove yourself from the situation to cool down before going back in and responding.
Now as you pause watch the reaction go away and consider in this moment to choose a compassionate response. What can we do to make the situation better, to help teach or build a better relationship in the moment? You now have a choice.
We Are Not Perfect
It may take practice but be kind to yourself and practice Mindfulness. In time you will get better at pausing and practicing Mindfulness.
To learn more about mindfulness and our programs,
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