In these stressful times, incorporating the skills of living mindfully can reap many rewards, including positive changes in health, attitude and behavior.
As we all hunker down to stay physically well, it’s important to keep mental health a top priority, too. Anxiety, or a fear of the unknown, can have a detrimental effect on our bodies and minds. It’s often characterized by:
- Changes in mood
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disorders
- Panic attacks
- Stomach and digestive problems
- Loss of libido
- Aches and pain in our joints and muscles
Mindfulness: A path to a less stressful life
Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness. Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment.
This is not an easy feat at this moment in our history, for sure. Just remember that this too, shall pass, and mindfulness practice is something you can take with you going forward and apply in any difficult situation. It involves being kind and forgiving toward yourself, without believing there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment.
“The benefits of practicing mindfulness include higher brain functioning, increased awareness, attention, and focus, as well as lowered anxiety levels,” notes Mary Beth Schmidt, senior staff chaplain at White Plains Hospital. One of the ways in which mindfulness can help treat depression is through enhancing our ability to regulate our emotions, she says. Additionally, research has shown that mindfulness helps bolster our immune system, making us more able to fight off illness and disease. “The deep belly breathing that is often associated with mindfulness is an effective way to lower blood pressure and reduce cortisol,” Schmidt adds.
Many of us question what we can do to improve our lives, especially during a time where many are home and getting cabin fever. By focusing on the moment and practicing mindfulness we can alleviate the stress that might cause us to feel depressed, to over react, or to over eat. Mindfulness is not a magical method that can conquer stress, but through practice, it can help us manage it.
Ready to try mindfulness? These short YouTube videos provide simple techniques you can do anywhere, anytime:
STOP to Regain Peace
Body Scan to De-Stress