Get out of your head – learn mindfulness stress management

Get out of your head and into mindfulness to reduce stress.

Have you heard the new buzz word or approach to stress management? That new word is “mindfulness.” Wikipedia defines mindfulness as a meditative practice which originates in Buddhism, but has gained worldwide popularity as a distinctive method to handle emotions. Consciously being aware of your emotions is important to balancing stress.

Many people react to stress without thinking or being “mindful” of their emotions. Mindfulness is more than a meditative or yoga practice. It is based on noticing or paying attention to your feelings, thoughts and body sensations and accepting them without judgment. Your body’s neurological system provides triggers, feelings, sensations or cues to tell your mind how to react continuously. Mindfulness stress management provides exercises to develop your awareness to these cues.

Mindfulness stress management means using self-care practices that focus on paying attention to our breathing, eating, movements and thoughts. Once you notice, the next practice is to shift or slow down into moment-to-moment awareness and practice paying attention to these sensations.

Some of the research on mindfulness has found that it decreases anxiety, depression and irritability, improves quality of life for those living with back pain, heart disease and other chronic physical conditions, and has improved many relationships.

Mindfulness means to consciously choose to pay attention to your whole body, not just your thinking mind. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a noted mindfulness teacher and scholar, said “Mindfulness is not paying more attention but paying attention more wisely – with the whole mind and heart and senses of the body.”

Michigan State University Extension has various social-emotional health programs that help build positive relationships and manage stress. Persure www.msue.msu.edu to find a program near you.

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