As unfortunate as it may be, stress is just another common occurrence for just about everyone. It can affect you in varying ways with annoying short term effects, such as headaches, fatigue, chest pain, and an increase in blood pressure. Although, long term effects can become increasingly more worrisome.
Chronic stress can result in anxiety, depression, memory impairment, digestive problems and heart disease. Luckily there are a plethora of ways to help in coping with stress that you can utilize however you want. But one that might not immediately come to mind is a big one: mindfulness.
Mindfulness has gained significant attention as a complementary health treatment for both physical and psychological conditions and research has shown that training in mindfulness can reduce the physiological stress response (Villalba., et al 2019).
A study found that chronic stress was associated with elevated levels of the inflammatory biological marker C-Reactive Protein (CRP) which has been found to be linked to an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease, autoimmune and metabolic diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. However, practices such as mindfulness and meditations can reduce these health-related risks (Villalba., et al 2019).
"Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose"
That all sounds like just something else to be stressed about. Luckily, the practices mentioned above are easy to do and can be customized to better accommodate your lifestyle. You might be wondering what mindfulness is. “Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” (Kabat-Zinn, 2003).
Now let it be known that one does not have to meditate to practice mindfulness, but the two go hand in hand very well. Mindfulness can be broken down further to make it easier for beginners to incorporate into their daily routine. You can simply: pay attention, live in the moment, focus on your breathing, and accept what you can and can’t control. Easy enough?
All that being said, here’s a quote from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s article on Mindfulness-based interventions that could further motivate you as a novice in practicing, “I would add only that it is perhaps a sane way to live that might not be so strange once one begins to inhabit that landscape in a more regular way,” (2003). Try it alone or better yet, with your family, and tame your stress together.
Article submitted to Uplift Families by Vanessa Diaz, Prevention Specialist with Southwest Behavioral Health Center.
Kabat-Zinn, Jon. “Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Context: Past, Present, and Future.” Clinical Psychology: Science & Practice, vol. 10, no. 2, June 2003, pp. 144–56. EBSCOhost, https://doi.org/10.1093/clipsy.bpg016.
Villalba, Daniella K., et al. “Mindfulness Training and Systemic Low-Grade Inflammation in Stressed Community Adults: Evidence from Two Randomized Controlled Trials.” PLoS ONE, vol. 14, no. 7, July 2019, pp. 1–20. EBSCOhost, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0219120.