December 1, 2022

Less Stress, More Mindful

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In modern days, we live in hectic and fast-paced lives. It is like we have to live in this way and we cannot even take a rest for a short time. We feel like we must accomplish something for the sake of a better life. That is why hustle culture is getting popular these days. Consequently, that behavior usually leads us to feel stress and burnout rather than being healthy and productive. This situation does not attack adults only, but also teenagers because the hustle is not related to working anymore. In school, the competition is also tough and unavoidable so it is likely to make students overwhelmed.

Moreover, the pandemic era makes our lives more miserable. Let us try to imagine when we have been stressed due to overloading work or study, COVID-19 makes us more stressed because we do not know whether we ourselves will be threatened by the virus, our family, or our friends.  The unsure situation will drive us crazy. Also, this era does not allow us to go everywhere. We have to stay at home to prevent the virus. Of course, it is good for our health, yet it is not good for our social life. We are not able to hang out with our friends or relatives in the meantime, in which this is bad for our mental health and causes more stress.

Seeing from the occurrences that are mentioned above, it is inevitable that stress becomes our part of life. It affects variously depending on the person itself. Maybe, some of us can manage stress. If so, it is very good for your wellbeing. You will be able to live a more enjoyable and meaningful life. However, others may be unable to deal with it. Some of you might get several symptoms such as headaches, stomach problems, constantly worrying, and sleeping problems. Those are certainly disturbing us and we want to get rid of them all. If we keep stressed over an extended period of time, our stress can be turned into chronic stress and it will lead to more dangerous problems like anxiety and depression.

Indeed, there are many ways to cope with our stressㅡ we are going to talk it soon. Nonetheless, not all solutions will be suitable for our situation so that it might lead to an unbeneficial solution. Surprisingly, there is an alternative way for us to deal with stress. That is mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness has become the solution of the problem that is related to our mind. According to mindful.org, mindfulness itself refers to the ability to be present and aware of the current situation. With mindfulness, we are no longer ruminating about the past and worrying about the future, we just focus on what we do or what we have in the present moment. Sounds good, isn’t it?

Mindfulness is rooted from Buddhism. We can go back to the period between c. 1500 – c. 1100 BCE that is also called the Vedic age. The word mindfulness itself is from the word Sati. In the past, the reason for mindfulness was for improving meditation practices so that Buddhists can reach their main goal which is Nirvana. With mindfulness, they may be able to control their thoughts. Negativity, judgment, and other thoughts that cloud the mind will be minimized. 

Buddhist philosophy is related so much to the concept of mindfulness. Mindfulness has been becoming an important thing in the East since a long time ago. In the West, mindfulness became popular in the late 70s. The concept was brought to western world by Jon Kabat-Zinn. He was inspired by Philip Kapleau, who is a Zen Buddhist teacher and missionary. Philip gave a lecture about Japanese Zen tradition that finally leads Jon to discover mindfulness. He then invented Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. This occasion has paved the way of mindfulness for getting more attention in the world.

How can mindfulness reduce stress?

While we get stressed, our mind can think clearly. Then, it will become a gate of several problems. Mindfulness is undoubtedly able to reduce our stress. With being mindful, we can control our thoughts so that we are not drowned into stressful thoughts. Then, we will be able to observe our thoughts so that we can decide to ignore negative thoughts and focus on what is in front of us.

Being mindful is a miracle, it is not a thing that everyone can have easily. Efforts are needed to make our mind peaceful. Mindfulness works uniquely and simply in our mind. According to this American Psychological Association (APA) article, mindfulness may have downstream effects throughout the body by lowering the stress response. Psychological scientists have found that mindfulness influences two different stress pathways in the brain, changing brain structures and activity in regions associated with attention and emotion regulation.

Mindfulness can offer some other benefits besides reducing stress. According to Healthline.com, there are several benefits of mindfulness including improving cognitive ability, slowing brain, coping anxiety, curing depression, increasing a sense of well-being, helping with pain management, improving quality of life for those living with chronic conditions.

How to be more mindful

As stated by MayoClinic.org, there are several steps to be more mindful. Some examples including:

1. Pay attention

Try to take the time to experience your current situation with all of your senses — touch, sound, sight, smell and taste. Feel each sensation that comes to us. For instance, when you eat a favorite food, take the time to smell, taste and truly enjoy it.

2. Live in the moment

Try to accept and be grateful for what you have now. Also, try to enjoy the simple things that you face at the moment so that your life will be meaningful.

3. Accept yourself

Besides accepting what you have, accepting what you are is good for your mind. Try to treat yourself the way you would treat a best friend. It can improve your well-being and you will be more confident.

4. Focus on your breathing

When you have negative thoughts, try to calm yourself by taking a deep breath and closing your eyes. Focus on your breath as it gets in and out of your body. Calm and well-organized breathing for even just a minute can help you to escape from bad thoughts.

Mindfulness is often related to meditation. Both approaches have the same basic concept, trying to be more aware of thoughts. So, there are more structured practices of being mindful that the activities are meditation-based practice, such as body scan meditation, sitting meditation, and walking meditation

We do not need to be mindful all day long. Actually, what we really need is the ability to get back to the mindful state if our thoughts had drowned us. With some above exercises, mindfulness will be reached and our mind will be more relaxed when facing stressors.

Why should we choose mindfulness?

There are a lot of things that can help us to make stress more manageable such as optimizing healthy eating, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, taking a break, exercising, and talking to others. However, not everyone can do those things because lots of free time or, perhaps, money is required. Those things are likely to hinder the people who do not have a lot of time to relieve themselves from stress.  Interestingly, mindfulness can be another solution that will help us. It is a technique that has been scientifically proven beneficial by many experts. Yet, there will be a few questions regarding mindfulness. Can it really help us? Why should we choose this?

Mindfulness is the simplest way of coping stress yet powerful. It means that we can be mindful every time and everywhere without spending a lot of time or money. We are able to do this while in home, campus, office, or even crowded places such as markets or public transportation. When we are lost in thought, take a short time and feel the present moment. Usually, we forget how to focus on what we are doing now because stress takes our peaceful time. With stress, our energy is drained so much that we will be burnout easily . Mindfulness can be a solution to this.

Conclusion

In modern days in which the chance of getting stressed will be more often, mindfulness has been a simple yet excellent solution for us. It offers calmness into our mind and peacefulness into our lives. The awareness of the present moment helps us to enjoy more what we do and we have in the present. Mindfulness brings us to the state of mind that we can choose which thoughts we should prioritize and put aside. It does not mean forgetting all negative thoughts but it is a step for preventing us from being drowned in bad thoughts. Being mindful is not that difficult, several steps such as paying attention, living in the moment, accepting yourself, and focusing on breathing helps us to reach mindfulness. Meditation can make us more mindful as well. 

After knowing all about mindfulness, wanna give it a try?

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