5 Ways to Be Mindful and Reduce Stress
Mindfulness, a form of focused awareness, has a positive effect on lowering the stress response and rejuvenating enthusiasm for your tasks at hand.
Studies have shown that mindfulness, a form of meditation in which you disengage yourself from strong beliefs, thoughts, and emotions, has a positive effect on brain function, lowering the stress response and increasing feelings of relaxation and well-being. It involves being truly present, even during those simple, mundane activities like washing dishes. It can remind you of the "reality of impermanence," Kabat-Zinn writes in his bestselling book Full Catastrophe Living. "Here you are doing the dishes again. How many times have you done the dishes? How many more times will you do them in your life? What is this activity we call doing the dishes? Who is doing them? Why?"
Mindfulness researcher Jon Kabat-Zinn explains how to live in the moment 5 Ways to Be Mindful and Achieve Optimal Health.
1. Consider what's right with you. Every day, take a moment to thank your eyes for seeing, your liver for functioning, your feet for carrying you from place to place. Heck, thank those mitochondria within your cells for pumping out the energy you need to get you out of bed in the morning.
2. Love yourself unconditionally. Hate yourself for being 40 pounds overweight? Rather than setting a weight-loss goal and promising to love yourself once you get there, Kabat-Zinn says you need to make an effort to love yourself "all the way," whether you're 300 pounds or 150. If you decide to eat smaller portions or give up chips for carrot sticks, simply tell yourself, "This is just the way I'm eating now as a way to live better."
3. Live in the present moment. Don't think about what you ate yesterday or make promises to exercise tomorrow. "Every moment gives you the ability to learn, grow, and change," explains Kabat-Zinn. "If you can take a moment and live as if it really mattered, you can take a step back and see those impulses that may be negative to your health.
4. When life gets tough, don't take it personally. When faced with job loss, a foreclosure, or an impending divorce, it's really hard not to place the blame squarely on your own shoulders and get stuck in the "if only" mind-set. That sort of rumination sets you up for full-blown depression. While it's important to accept responsibility for your actions, the best way to do that is by looking to the present rather than the past. What are you going to do that's different right now, at this moment, to move forward?
5. Put the "being" back in human. If you fill every moment with frenetic activity—work, text messaging, household chores, computer games—you never give yourself a chance to simply be. As corny as it sounds, just sitting for a moment to contemplate the clouds, the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the pattern of stalled cars winding around the freeway, is what separates us from the nut-gathering squirrels. And science shows it's a great stress reliever, to boot.
Learn more about the author, David Ebaugh.
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- personal development