In the age of constant distractions and expectations, it’s no wonder stress and anxiety is on the rise. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that by the year 2020 mental illness will be the leading cause of disability in Canada.
Calvin and Hobbes once said it best. “We are so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.”
If you are struggling with stress or stress-related illnesses, then perhaps you might want to try this new (but not so new) practice called “Mindfulness.” Not sure what mindfulness is?
Mindfulness has two essential factors that define it: 1. Staying in the moment mentally and focusing on your personal surroundings, thoughts, sensations and feelings in the now. 2. Accepting the thoughts and feelings that you are currently experience without judgment. (Gomes, 2016)
Mindfulness is a way of life. Not so much a relaxation technique, but a form of mental training to reduce the reactive modes of thinking that may increase stress or emotional discomfort. (Olpin & Hesson, 2011) Through mindfulness practices “we learn to see things the way they are, not the way we think they should be. “
Although this principle is quite simple (in theory), it may be difficult to implement easily since we’ve already developed strong habits that will need to be broken. Ultimately, we need to think like a child and react to only what is happening in the moment. Non-judging, accepting, non-attachment, non-striving. (Olpin & Hesson, 2011)
The great thing about mindfulness is that it can: Turn off the stress response, reduce stress hormones, boost immune system, reduce pain-anxiety-depression, and enhance your positive state of mind. (Siegel, 2007)
The process of practicing mindfulness aids in building self-efficiency as it works to build connections between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex of the brain, assisting individuals who practice mindfulness to have mental calmness and composure during hard times or during difficult situations. (American Psychological Association, 2017; Badri & Neerja, 2016)
Mindfulness in the workplace is also important to both employees and senior leaders as it improves decision-making by helping to clarify objectives and generating opinions. It also reduces absenteeism, improves job satisfaction and improves employee/employer relationships. Major companies like Google, General Mills and Target have taken on mindfulness training for their employees as the benefits of mindfulness training are vast. (UNC Executive Development, 2014).
We live a busy life that is technologically driven and consumes our personal attention leaving us with little time for personal reflection. We find ourselves in a multi-tasking fury of activities that creates a lack of interpersonal connections, and a connection with others since we are so focused on our own mindless crap. (Siegel, 2007)
Ask yourself this easy question. Do you want to live mind-full or mindful?
Lisa Lounsbury is the president and co-founder of New Day Wellness. Learn more at NewDayWellness.ca.