With the state of the world now, more people struggle to deal with stress in a healthy manner. It can be a combination of many factors, such as financial struggles, mental health, unachieved personal goals, and physical health. Most people write it off as a matter of attitude, saying that stress is all in one’s perspective.
While that statement rings true, elevated stress levels can severely threaten a person’s well-being. In many ways, stress left unchecked can be the primary source of many severe physical and mental illnesses. These illnesses can include:
- Heart Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS
- High Blood Sugar
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Tension Headaches
- Sleep Dysfunction
- Neck and Shoulder Pain
- Common Cold
Needless to say, stress is something that requires careful management from the individual. Some medical professionals will prescribe medications; however, taking medication for stress could cause other health complications.
That is why people look for more natural forms of managing stress, and a proven method for reducing and managing anxiety and worry is mindfulness. This article will cover the basics of mindfulness and how it can help people reduce stress more naturally.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness refers to a state of purposely focusing one’s mind on the present moment with complete acceptance and no judgment. It is about fully attending to what you are doing, what is happening, and the space you occupy.
It may sound like something trivial or an obvious thing to do as a human being. However, you would be surprised how often people fail to remain in the present moment. People often worry excessively about the future or fixate too much on past events.
The present moment is the only time people have to do productive and worthwhile things. There are many avenues to enter mindfulness, as Jon Kabat-Zinn defines it. The only problem is the present moment is not always ideal for people. That is why they obsess over happier past events or look forward to better futures instead of living in the present moment. The most important takeaway from mindfulness is not attention to a specific object, moment, or thought. Attending itself is the most crucial aspect of mindfulness, paying attention to attention.
Have you ever tried to focus on breathing without thinking about anything else? There is a good chance after the first couple of breaths, your mind will start to drift off. It can drift off to any thought, whether it’s your future plans or past memories. When your mind takes flight, it loses touch with your body and clouds itself with obsessive thoughts about things. Mindfulness is about pulling back your thoughts into what you are doing or the present moment whenever it drifts off.
Mindfulness is a way people gain clarity simply by being aware of awareness. It is about simply being instead of worrying about things out of one’s current control.
How mindfulness reduces stress
Stress can come in many forms, but the common theme is how people perceive and subsequently handle it. The source of one’s stress can come from anywhere, from work-related problems to personal turmoil. Some people are better at managing their issues with stress, and some are not so good at handling it.
Mindfulness is an excellent way for people to cope with their everyday stress and issues. That is because it allows one to step back and assess their situation calmly by being present at the moment. Here are some of the ways mindfulness can help you reduce stress.
It builds one’s inner strength
Did you know that standing still for a prolonged period of time takes a tremendous amount of physical strength? Staying focused on the present is similar but in terms of mental strength. Focusing on the present moment is challenging for most people, but regularly practising mindfulness enables one to develop mental strength.
As one develops that inner strength, one prepares for life’s future stressors. That way, when things get rough, you have the mental resilience and will to overcome any struggles.
It boosts one’s self-awareness
More often than most people would like to admit, they often lose touch with themselves when they stress over something. One’s obsession with resolving everyday problems often leads one to forget to attend to their own mind and body. That is why stress can cause a multitude of preventable diseases, both physical and mental.
When you practice mindfulness, even if it’s just with something as simple as pausing emails, you become more aware of your own body and mind. It functions as a means to check your own well-being, which is more valuable than any resolved issue. Furthermore, when your mind and body are well maintained, you can function more efficiently to solve the problems that cause you stress.
It enables one’s empathy
A common cause of conflict and stress among people is the severe lack of empathy for one another. That is especially detrimental when dealing with stress in relationships. Whether it is with your family, friends, or romantic partners, any relationship is always stressful and conflicting.
When one practices empathy, they reinforce their emotional intelligence, starting with themselves and then with others. When one is more aware of the inner workings of their own mind, it enables one to be more empathetic toward others. That allows for a more peaceful resolution and a better understanding of one another.
Combat stress with mindfulness
Stress is a natural part of life, regardless of person or circumstance. How you deal with that stress makes all the difference. With mindfulness, you have all the tools you need to strengthen your mind to deal with life’s stressors.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.