How can mindfulness help manage stress? - Hindustan Times
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How can mindfulness help manage stress?

Jan 13, 2022 06:06 PM IST

The core of mindfulness is the ability to detach ourselves from our thoughts and feelings, which can be overwhelming and cause stress. Here are some ways to practice mindfulness

New beginnings are harbingers of hope. As we enter 2022, our dampened enthusiasm caused by the unfortunate events of the last two years has led to an unprecedented increase in the levels of anxiety, stress, depression, and addiction worldwide.

Mindfulness empowers us to stay grounded in times of ambiguity, helps reduce stress, and build resilience so that we are able to cope better. (Shutterstock) PREMIUM
Mindfulness empowers us to stay grounded in times of ambiguity, helps reduce stress, and build resilience so that we are able to cope better. (Shutterstock)

Humans are hardwired for certainty and clarity which in turn brings stability and security. Anxiety and stress are normal human reactions to the current environment. However, mindfulness empowers us to stay grounded in times of ambiguity, helps reduce stress, and build resilience so that we are able to cope better. It enables us to unhook from futile thoughts leading to a calmer self.

To feel some amount of stress and fear in tough times is unavoidable, as these are basic human responses in the difficult moments of life. But, by constantly worrying about things that are not under our control, we cause a lot of unwanted stress and suffering to ourselves.

Our minds are habituated to a fight-or-flight response and enjoy this to a certain extent. But the stress that comes with it is detrimental to our physical and mental health. Higher levels of cortisol rust our system permanently.

For instance, we cannot control how authorities respond to events, what other people do, or how a post-Covid-19 world would look. We cannot predict the uncertainties of the future, but one thing we can get a grip on are our thoughts. The more we try to control the things outside of our power, the more helpless, frantic and overwhelmed we would feel.

So, the most simple and powerful thing we can do in challenging times is become mindful and accept our situation in totality without any judgment.

Mindfulness: The word is self-explanatory. The mind is fully aware of what you are thinking, feeling, doing; and of what is happening within the space you are moving through. In simple words, it is observing our experiences, seeing the minutest details, uncritically. The core of mindfulness is the ability to detach ourselves from our thoughts and feelings, which can be overwhelming and cause stress.

Here are some ways to practice mindfulness:

Stop multitasking: Multitasking has become a catchphrase in the last few decades. However, research at London and Stanford universities shows that productivity decreases by 40%, and IQ drops by 15% when we multitask. Concentrating on one task at a time leads to greater productivity and lesser stress.

Listen when you listen: Mindful listening is an art that teaches us to listen without adding our interpretations to it. Often, we are absent in most of our conversations, because we listen to respond than to simply listen to listen. This is another reason for constant anxiety.

Breathe: In today’s competitive day and age, we have forgotten to breathe in, the human way — diaphragm (belly) breathing. It is the natural way mammals breathe, deep into the belly. And when we take air into our stomachs, there is no room for stress in our bodies. This is the core practice of mindfulness. Ironically, the simplest things are the most difficult to practice due to our forgetfulness.

Practice gratitude: The best cure for all our problems. You can practice mindfulness anytime and anywhere, in all your endeavours.

Bhupinder Sandhu is a London-based mindfulness coach who believes in the human ability to build a blissful world together

The views expressed are personal

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