Mindfulness and Stress Relief

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is an attentive awareness of the reality of things in the present moment. Learning how to be mindful brings the wisdom and ability to listen to your body. This will make you conscious of when you’re overworked or stressed out.

Imagine it’s 1:00 a.m. and you’re still at your computer working on that project that’s due. Suddenly you start to get a headache and that tired, achy feeling all over. You could end up calling in sick for work and delaying the project another day, causing more stress. Being an overachiever means being prone to stress induced illnesses and getting job burnout. Getting sick is costly for everyone. Not being able to perform with fresh ideas is defeating.

Listening to How We Feel

It is possible to achieve a stress free life and be an overachiever. Listening to your body is key when you’re stressed. During a stressful moment, you might tense your muscles, taking short shallow breaths. When you feel this happening, take a few minutes and breathe from your belly. Focus on letting the air in and out through your nose. Focusing on your breathing for a few minutes will have a calming effect and will help to bring you back to the present moment.

Practicing yoga every day helps with healthy breathing techniques while stretching your muscles. I found doing the sun salutation and the half moon pose is a great way to stretch at work. These are simple exercises you can do at your desk.

Sun Salutation:

Slowly bend at the waist, touch your toes, and hold for a few seconds. Then reach your arms behind your head, straightening your spine, and hold for a few seconds. Repeat this two or three times.

Sun Salutation Sun Salutation

Half Moon Pose:

Reach up and slowly bend your right side, keeping your arms straight hold for a few seconds. Repeat on your left side.

Half Moon Pose Half Moon Pose

Relaxing

Every so often, take a few minutes to relax. Reflect upon and relish the moment. I’m constantly worrying about the next moment, trying to juggle several tasks at once. This can take its toll on you. Set aside a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness. If you’re not taking time to relax, then the harmful effects of stress can break down your body and damage your immune system.

Escapism

Sometimes if you’re stuck on a problem, removing yourself from the situation for a while helps. Taking a vacation benefits both the mind and body by allowing time for your body to relax and recover. Playing games is another great way to relieve stress and free your mind of problems. Other techniques include talking with friends or coworkers at lunch, walking, climbing stairs instead of taking the elevator, listening to music, journaling your thoughts, or learning a new musical instrument.

Practicing different stress relieving techniques throughout the day will program your cognitive abilities. If you keep coming back to old unhealthy habits, you will teach your brain to keep relieving stress in an unhealthy way. Breaking a bad habit chain is difficult. Starting a new routine helps, even if it’s as simple as standing up right now, then stretching and breathing for five minutes. Distract yourself with a healthy stress reliever each time you have the urge to start that old, unhealthy habit again. Soon your mind will be trained and strengthened to repeat the healthier habit. This may all seem like common sense. However, practicing mindfulness techniques regularly will help you reach your goals with a healthy lifestyle.

Susan Rosso, Director of Administration

Susan Rosso is a former 8th Light employee.

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