Stress Reduction and Mindfulness

Stress reduction and stress management skills are key to living a happy and rewarding life. Mindfulness is  extremely effective as a stress management technique. Here’s some information about stress and using mindfulness to reduce stress that I hope is helpful.

When we are stressed out, we tend to lose touch with the present moment. We become distracted or overwhelmed by thoughts and worries. We might go into intense problem solving mode and “attack” problems, and be very aggressive in trying to “beat” stress. We might  try to avoid or “run away” stress. Or, we might just “get stuck” and feel unable to do anything.

All three of these responses – trying to fight stress, flee from stress, or freeze due to stress – are all normal and understandable, and sometimes very useful.  But, sometimes the approaches of fighting, fleeing, or freezing actually create more stress! When you notice that the way you cope with stress is causing stress, mindfulness can help.

The way to cope with stress using mindfulness involves being present and being gentle. Notice how you feel without judging or trying to fix anything, the way you would be with a friend who just needs you to be kind and to listen without judging. Instead of trying to fight, flee, or freeze, have a curious and friendly attitude towards stress. When you are present and mindful with an upset friend, they tend to calm down, become more grounded, and make choices from a mindset of stability rather than reacting to panic or feeling overwhelmed. As you practice this skill with your stress, you learn to relate to your stress from a mindset of mindfulness instead of a mindset of distress. You learn to approach and resolve stress with a state of mind that is more calm, stable, and present.

You know what happens when you relate to stress mindlessly. You get more stress. What might happen if you practiced mindfulness? There’s only one way to find out!

– Dan


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