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How Practicing Mindfulness Can Reduce Stress

Originally published on ChuckSchmalzried.org

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Unchecked stress can cause damage to your mental and physical health; if left unaddressed and unmanaged, stress can also negatively impact your relationships, both personal and professional, as well as your career. Practicing mindfulness is an effective way to manage and reduce stress.

Meditation

One of the most common associations with mindfulness is meditation. Though the practice may not be natural or effective for everyone, it utilizes some of the key tenets of mindfulness in a productive way. Connecting with your physical form as well as your internal thoughts in a controlled, stable environment allows for productive introspection and clarity.

Another important element of meditation is a focus on your breathing. Meditation prompts individuals to concentrate on the present rather than dwelling on worries about the future or concerns with the past. Mindfulness meditation is an effective practice for managing intangible stress and lessening physical tension.

Awareness

Practicing mindfulness exercises promotes heightened self-awareness that helps individuals prevent and manage the sources of their stress. This awareness allows for a shift in focus from the negative consequences of stress to the stress itself, encouraging a more productive attitude and approach to the issue.

As the result of becoming more aware of your own emotions and thoughts, your emotional intelligence rises, making you more susceptible to the feelings of others. Because of this, individuals who practice mindfulness are often less likely to start or entertain unnecessary conflict with others.

Another benefit of mindfulness practices is the ability to delay your reactions to stress. Rather than react immediately to a new cause of stress, practicing mindfulness helps you better acknowledge your thoughts and approach the situation with restraint and wisdom.

Inner Strength

The amygdala is in part responsible for stress responses. Practicing mindfulness reduces activity in this part of the brain, thereby lessening your intensity of stress. A calmed amygdala means that background stress is significantly reduced. Conditioning yourself to have a more neutral reaction to future stressors can also help you better manage existing stress.

Mindfulness exercises—from meditation to mindful eating—provide a host of benefits to practitioners. When it comes to managing and reducing stress, mindfulness is an effective mechanism to utilize. The practices may not come naturally to everyone, but granting yourself time to practice mindfulness could be beneficial in improving awareness and fostering resilience to stressors.

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