Today many of us are familiar with the signs and symptoms of burnout and stress.
For most of us we are living in a state of constant arousal ready for action thanks to the use and abuse of technology.
This constant state of arousal is known as our “flight or fight” response, which creates a stress response in our bodies.
Stress that is prolonged affects our health both physically and mentally symptoms of stress include weight gain, depression, anxiety and skin disorders to list a few.
Stress also speeds up the ageing process and depletes our immune system making us more susceptible to picking up infections.
The physiological changes that occur in your body include;
Increased blood flow to the muscles activated by diverting blood flow from other parts of the body. This can impact digestion of food and your ability to perform cognitive tasks.
Increased blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugars, and fats in order to supply the body with extra energy. This increases our risk of lifestyle related diseases such as stroke and heart disease.
Increased muscle tension in order to provide the body with extra speed and strength. This can lead to headaches and stiff shoulders and necks or repetitive strain injuries.
So how can we combat stress that is so much a part of our every day lives?
Through the practice of mindfulness, but what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the ability to maintain awareness of your current situation without limitations of your past experiences or expectations of how you things should be. Mindfulness creates acceptance of your present reality. There is no thought as to accepting or not accepting. What is happening is happening. Mindfulness allows you to accept your current experience without desire, judgment or rejection. There is only the experience nothing more or nothing less.
Isn’t that a beautiful concept? Through the practice of meditation our ability to remain mindful of our current experiences is heightened enabling acceptance rather than avoidance of the present moment. The past is the past, it can’t be undone, the future to great to control, leaving only just the present moment for us to experience.
How do we create mindfulness? With practice in order to control our thoughts and emotions we must first be aware that they exist, we must be able to sense changes in body tension.
Begin your own mindful meditation practice, mediating for 23 minutes a day over 13 weeks is seen to change brain waves activity promoting relaxation.
Practice mindfulness outside of meditation.
Be aware of your body, your emotions, and what is happening at that moment. Notice sensations. Identify cues that will bring you back to your mindfulness
Focus on your sensations in your body.
Go for a run and focus on your bodies sensation, muscle tension and try to consciously relax that muscle or focus on your breathing to slow down your heart rate.
Practice breathing deeply and fully, slowly inhale and exhale focusing slowly on the breathe, turning off all internal chatter and unnecessary thoughts.
Practice gratitude by being grateful for what you have in your life it opens us up to our present. This prevents us from focusing on the past or the future.