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Feelings of stress and anxiety are at all-time high levels within the American population and this constant state of heightened stress is thought to contribute to problems such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and depression. All things we’d like to avoid, right?

Mindfulness, it’s one of the new buzzwords floating around everywhere now, so what is it? Mindfulness is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”

Mindfulness helps you to reframe the events that are currently happening around you and recognize them for what they truly are. Being mindful allows you to recognize how you are feeling about a situation and helps you to put that situation into perspective. Practicing mindfulness has been shown to significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels, as well as easing professional burnout, and emotional exhaustion. Here are 3 ways to introduce mindfulness into your life:

Focus on the Present Moment

Take a moment to think about: How are you feeling right now? What are you thinking about right now? How much do these things matter in the grand scheme of things? Mindfulness is about understanding where your head is at right now. In doing so you gain an understanding of the things in your life that are bringing you stress and put them into perspective. Often times the things we feel are going to matter, really don’t.

Meditate

Take 5 minutes from your day, at any point in your day. Find a quiet space to sit down and close your eyes and follow these steps:

  • Minute 1: focus on breathing. Count to 4 on each inhale, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts and then begin again
  • Minute 2: Clear your mind, focus on the inhales and exhales. Let go of the counts and breathe at your natural pace.
  • Minute 3: Actively release any unwanted thoughts that pop into your mind. Clear your mental to-do list and continue to pay close attention to your breathing
  • Minute 4: Be at peace with where you are, how you are, and who you are at this exact moment. You are inhaling clean, happy, loving thoughts, and exhaling negative energy.
  • Minute 5: Visualize yourself as you would like to be. Visualize goals being realized. Visualize yourself in a happy state. Continue to focus on your breathing.

(a copy of this 5-minute meditation can be found over at the Frymoyer Community Health Resource Center at the UVM Medical Center.)

Reflect on Your Day

At the end of every day reflect on the good moments of your day. What felt like the most meaningful moment of the day? Why?

Also take time to reflect on the bad moments of your day. What felt like the hardest point in the day? Why? What can you do when something like this happens again?

By taking time to cherish the positive moments in our day and recognize how we can improve the negative moments, we form a more accurate perception of our lives.

Try incorporating these three techniques into your daily life. Over time you’ll notice a drastic difference in not only how you perceive both the positive and negative events in your life, but also how they affect you. Visit the Frymoyer Community Health Resource Center for more information on ways to resolve stress and anxiety.

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