Whilst we may not be jumping from sky scrappers or hunting criminal masterminds, 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, always ready for action thanks to the use, and misuse of technology.
This constant state of arousal is known as our “flight or fight” response and is regulated by our autonomic nervous system.
Stress that is sustained and prolonged effects our health both physically and mentally. Symptoms of stress include weight gain, depression, anxiety and skin disorders.
Stress also speed up the ageing process, and depletes our immune system, making us more susceptible to picking up infections and viruses.
Stress also causes 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. So when you are stressed you might find it difficult to concentrate on simple tasks and you may feel your stomach churning up.
Your blood pressure also increases, along with your heart rate, blood sugars, and fats circulating in your blood stream. These kinds of physiological changes increase our risk of lifestyle-related diseases such as stroke and heart disease.
Increased muscle tension is another nasty associated with prolonged stress. 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 everyday lives?
Through the practice of mindfulness, yes its that simple.
Mindfulness is the ability to maintain awareness of your current situation without limitations of your past experiences or expectations of how you think 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, control freaks beware!
Mindfulness allows you to accept your current experience without desire, judgment or rejection. There is only the experience, nothing more or nothing less.
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.
So how can we work to create mindfulness?
With practice, we can control our thoughts and emotions.
Begin your own mindfulness meditation practice.
Meditating for 23 minutes a day, over 13 weeks, is seen to change brain wave 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 body’s sensation. Focus on your breathing and see if you can slow down your heart rate.
Practice breathing deeply and fully. Slowly inhale and exhale, focusing on each breath. Turn off all internal chatter and unnecessary thoughts.
Being grateful for what you have in your life helps you to become more mindful of what want to achieve.