Everywhere But Here: Combating Stress With Mindfulness
Have you ever pulled into your driveway and not remembered the last few turns that got you there.
Scary, isn't it?
Your head full, replaying the day's events and how you should have handled things or even dreading the evening ahead, wishing away hours of your day or preparing for the second shift of your day. It's not uncommon for us to disconnect from our present momentarily when we're overwhelmed, but it's not the healthiest way to process the lives we live. Things like chronic pain, decreased mental clarity and even family discord can all be produced when we are too busy stressing to be present. We have an epidemic of stressed out, distracted people and it's time we started to address it.
That's why MBSR can help. MBSR stands for Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and it's a systematic way of training your mind to be more present, calm and relaxed as a way of decreasing the stress you feel. While it doesn't make your problems go away, it does help you have the clarity you need to address your problems with focus and intention rather than being overwhelmed.
Recently, I did a survey of the educators who I've trained over the years and they told me the number one topic they needed help with was stress reduction and mindfulness. That's right, the people who are teaching, training and caring for our children are being overwhelmed by stress. Some to the point of experiencing distress or decreases in their mental wellness.
MBSR is the practice of training your mind and body to recognize and release tensions with some specific techniques. The term practice is very intentionally chosen because unlearning the way we've handled stress for possibly decades will take some practice. Thankfully, there are many resources to help. This FREE MBSR course can be done completely online and even shared with peers or family members.
A few quick tips if you're desperate right now to feel less tense and more at peace.
Do one thing at a time. You can start by something as simple as your shower. Don't think of last nights dishes in the sink or even how early you need to leave to beat traffic, just smell your soap, feel the warmth of the water, lock yourself into only one activity and be present there.
Practice a mantra. Affirmation or chant, repeating a healing phrase can help pull you back to the present when your mind is trying to race away. One I like is "I have time", it helps me not feel like I have to rush everywhere I go. My foot comes off the gas pedal a little bit, my shoulders naturally lose a bit of the tension they're holding and while I may not make it to my destination as quickly I make it there feeling better. "Feelings are not facts" is another one I use especially with my adolescent clients.
Move your body. Have you heard the phrase, sitting is the new smoking? Movement has a wonderful way of helping release tension. Turn on the radio and dance for a minute or even just take a quick walk through the office, whether you get a boost of endorphins or just change your view, both can help move you into a different thought pattern which even for the short term can help reduce your stress.