Mindfulness and Stress
Mindfulness is a helpful tool that enables us to pay attention to the present moment. This helps us to control the racing, repetitive, and non-productive thoughts that lead to stress. It allows us, in effect, to self-regulate.
Let’s take for example a situation when you don’t get an immediate reply to a text you sent your teenage child. You might begin worrying about something being wrong, maybe that he or she is hurt, and then over-think all the possible things that could have gone wrong. Alternatively, mindfulness can help us to pay attention to what is really occurring in the present moment. Instead of being overrun by thoughts, we could instead bring our awareness to what is happening in the moment, for example you might just recognise the desire for a reply and the feeling of possible helplessness or frustration in this moment. You may start to sense how this feels in the body. Through pausing in this way you are allowing yourself space before you respond to what is needed next rather than reacting and possibly regretting your actions later.
An open attitude provides relief
Another aspect of mindfulness is an attitude of curiosity and acceptance to whatever is occurring. In my example, when you don’t get a reply to your tet, you could accept that there may be many reasons why. Perhaps they didn’t realise it was important or perhaps they were busy.
Mindfulness creates a new relationship to experience.
According to some psychologists, the core mindful practices of intention, attention, and attitude lead to a fundamental shift in perspective enabling people to re-perceive. This allows us to dis-identify from emotions and body sensations as they arise, and simply be with them instead of being controlled or defined by them. We realize, “this worry is not me,” or ‘these thoughts are not me,’ which cultivates the ability to see a situation as it really is. As we do this more and more, our confidence in our ability to cope grows, and we are less likely to become stressed by events that would have previously felt overwhelming.