How mindfulness can help combat stress

The wellness movement has exploded in popularity over the last few years. Helped along by social channels like Instagram, Youtube and Pinterest, people are more conscious than ever about the health of their body and mind.

A key part of this wellness movement is mindfulness. Whether it’s through apps, colouring books or training courses, more and more people are using mindfulness to shake off their daily anxieties.

So, how exactly can this spirituality trend help you? We take a look at how mindfulness can help you combat stress.

What exactly is mindfulness?

A lot of people have different, contrasting ideas about what mindfulness really is. But at its core, mindfulness is an awareness and appreciation of the current moment that you’re living. You’re not resisting the moment or trying to change things, you simply acknowledge them as they are and either move on or appreciate them. When you’re mindful, you’re experiencing reality for what it truly is.

This is a pretty broad definition, but it gives you a general idea of what mindfulness is. Here are a couple examples of times you’ve probably been mindful without even noticing it:

  • If you’ve ever been mesmerized by nature – and I’m sure you have – then you’ve experienced mindfulness. This would be that awe-struck, slack-jawed appreciation you feel when staring up at the stars, or watching the sun paint the sky a dusty pink as it sinks into the horizon.
  • If you’ve ever had really passionate sex, you were probably in a state of mindfulness. When two people really connect sexually, the outside world pretty much ceases to exist, and they’re only aware of the intense intimacy of the moment, shared through touch, sight, smell, taste and sound.

These are just a couple of examples to give you a better idea of what mindfulness feels like. Being mindful allows you to be more observant, make more calculated decisions and process reality without the fog or incessant chatter that most people’s minds are constantly battling with. It’s about being completely engrossed in the moment that you’re living right now.

 

Why should you combat stress?

It’s important to know how stress can impact your ability to enjoy life. Everyone finds stress irritating and uncomfortable, but most people don’t realize just how much of their life experience is dampened when they’re focusing on stress.

A big part of stress is resistance to what is. Most people are stressed because there’s too much going on or because something bad happened or is about to happen. Worries, fears, anxiety and other negative emotions all coagulate and emerge as stress, which nobody likes to experience.

This stress distracts you from the moment you’re in. Although this isn’t always a bad thing, it’s important to acknowledge your stress and figure out how you can address it. However, most people tend to dwell on stress. Long after the catalyst to the stress is over, or long before they’re actually able to do anything about the situation, people obsess over their stress.

Don’t worry, we’re all guilty of this. It’s human nature to want to change and fix a situation to make yourself more comfortable. But it’s important to acknowledge that this build up of stress can make it harder for us to function on a daily basis and enjoy the spontaneity of life. That’s where mindfulness can help.

How mindfulness can help you overcome stress

If you practice mindfulness, then you’re going to be fully absorbed in the present moment, right? Fully absorbed. That means that your mind isn’t going to be able to pester and prod you with worries about the future, the past, what went wrong at that meeting or why that woman gave you that weird look. Stress simply can’t exist, because your awareness is entirely occupied with the present.

So, what if you just… let go? Accepted whatever happened, even if it sucks? That’s a big part of mindfulness: accepting whatever comes at you. This isn’t to say you should approve of everything and have an undying love for terrible situations. Not at all. What it means is that you shouldn’t waste your time and energy trying to change something that’s not within your power.

For example, If you’ve got a huge workload, you might be stressed because you’re worried you won’t finish it on time. And maybe you won’t. That’s always a possibility. However, you should accept that possibility of failure, and acknowledge that being stressed about what might happen is only going to hinder you in accomplishing your tasks.

Now, I’m not saying that’s going to be easy, especially not right off the bat. But if you start practicing mindfulness now and try to live every second of your life to the fullest, you’ll gradually start to notice that those nagging worries and stressful thoughts start to dwindle.

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