What is mindfulness?
Originating from the Buddhist sati, mindfulness is the moment-by-moment intentional, accepting and non-judgmental awareness and focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts, surroundings and sensations occurring in the present moment. It is commonly referred to as “being in the now.”
Benefits of mindfulness on stress
Mindfulness has been shown to be an extremely effective in stress prevention and management.
It works by calming the central nervous system, which is activated when we are faced with a stressful situation (such as an increase in heart rate, sweating, and blood-pressure).
How mindfulness can help you with stress:
- Calms you down
- Distracts you from the stressful situation
- Lowers your anxiety
- Stops you from dwelling on thoughts, particularly negative or stressful thoughts
- Helps you to make well-informed decisions
- Helps to keep you in control of your automatic thoughts or emotions
- Makes you feel more in control
- Stops you from acting out of emotions
- Helps you cope
- Gives you a break from worrying or being anxious
The best thing about mindfulness is that it works almost instantaneously. No matter where you are, you can practice mindfulness to help you deal with stress, even if you’re right in the middle of the stressful situation.
Next time you’re feeling stressed, try one of these exercises
- Focus on your breathing – Close your eyes and focus only your breathing. Don’t try to change the rhythm of your breathing. Just take notice of how it flows in and out of your nose and how your body moves. Try not to think of anything else.
- Listen to the sounds around you – First listen to the sounds far away from you such as any planes that are flying overhead or birds chirping. Then listen to sounds that are near to you, such as chatter nearby, or the hum of the air conditioning or buzz of a light. Do this for as long as you can until your feel your stress levels are lower. If you’re in a noisy area and can’t find a quiet spot, you can also concentrate on the sounds of music with headphones.
- Body scan – Sit quietly and close your eyes. Starting from your toes and slowly moving up to your head, focus on the sensations they are feeling. Notice how your clothes touch your skin and how the air flows over your body. This process can be repeated as many times as required.
Mindfulness techniques are great for stress management because they can be done virtually anywhere, at any time, and by anyone.
Web Address: www.visioncounselling.com.au
Published: 31/10/2014 “Mind full of Mindful?” (2011). ‘Mind full of Mindful?’,(Art Therapy Spot). Available: http://www.arttherapyspot.com/2011/06/mind-full-or-mindful.html (Accessed: 2014, October 9)