What’s this Mindfulness Crap?
Summer is a time for teachers to recharge, kids to be free, schedules to be broken, new activities and vacations. With this comes long road trips, late bedtimes, less structure running from one activity to another and possibly more stress…
Everyone faces stress and anxiety. While some keep it at bay, others cannot help but let it peculate up, affecting their mental and physical well-being. A study shows that up to 80% of health related issues that bring you to your primary physician are caused by stress, yet doctors only discuss stress with their patients 3% of the time. With the recent news of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain (even though we cannot know what exactly was going on), I feel it is worth dedicating this column to coping strategies for stress and anxiety.
How would you define and differentiate between Stress and Anxiety?
I like how David Spiegel, Stanford University’s associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, describes stress and anxiety in a Huffpost interview. Anxiety and stress are categorized by separate feelings. The stress we experience in our day-to-day lives is associated with frustration and nervousness, where anxiety often comes from a place of fear, unease and worry. Anxiety occurs if you cannot identify where the stress is coming from.
How do I cope?
There are a few things the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) recommend when managing stress and anxiety:
- Let go of control. Put things into perspective and ask yourself if it is really as bad as you think. Also, recognize that perfection isn’t possible, so be happy for what you are able to accomplish.
- Be good to your body. Exercise regularly and get more sleep. When stressed, your body needs more sleep, so make time for earlier lights out. Oh, and did you know caffeine and alcohol can exacerbate anxiety and trigger panic attacks? Not as exciting, but maybe that dirty martini or coffee can be swapped with water.
- Take time out. Being able to recognize when you are stressed or feeling anxious and SLOW DOWN. Count to 10 or 20 slowly or take deep breaths in and out. Find time for yourself by listening to music or getting a massage. Learn relaxation techniques through yoga and/or meditation. Stepping back from the problem can help you clear your head, this in essence is mindfulness…
Wait… What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is defined as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something” or as taught and practiced in yoga and meditation “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
By being cognizant of your thoughts and feelings, you can become more self-aware. Therefore when your blood pressure starts to rise or you find your mind racing, you can start to understand why you feel this way and find ways to talk yourself down. It is easier said than done, but the next time you find yourself overwhelmed or stressing out, try to take a step back, slow down and give mindfulness a shot.