Reduce stress through mindfulness
It’s time to start thinking about summer. This season is a great time to relax and spend time with family. One of the best ways to spend time with your family is during summer vacations, but planning for those can be expensive and time-consuming. At one time or another, we have all heard that exercise has benefits. Some of the most common benefits we tend to hear about are how exercise can help lower your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but the benefits only start there.
Fingers holding cell phones; constant updates via social media; 24/7 news alerts; and demands from work and home help create a world that is full of noise, chaos and all kinds of stressors that bombard us each day. Sometimes, we can get caught up in these stressors or events and allow them to take control over our lives and reduce our quality of life. Next time you are faced with a particularly stressful encounter or situation, try using mindfulness to reduce your stress and return your focus to what is important to you.
Mindfulness requires you to purposely pay attention to what is happening in the present moment. The most common method is to focus on breathing in and out, clearing your mind of thoughts. You can also focus on your physical self, your surroundings or your movements as you do a normal daily activity such as walking. Mindfulness helps you re-center, reduces external distractions and allows you to evaluate yourself and your reactions to the stressors around you.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction has been around since the 1970s, and numerous scientific studies have shown its effectiveness in stress reduction as well as other positive benefits including a decrease in anxiety and depression. Some studies have shown mindful eating can be a tool for weight management.
You can practice mindfulness anytime or anywhere as long as you turn your focus inward and allow distractions to fade away. For more information on mindfulness, contact the Harlan County Extension office.
Lora Davidson is the Harlan County Extension agent for family & consumer sciences. Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.