Greetings y’all! I hope you are staying safe and warm. As promised, I will be taking a little bit more of a deeper dive into the benefits of mindfulness. This week we will be talking about mindfulness and how it benefits us through stress reduction.
The first thing I would like to suggest is that when we are stressed out it puts us in a position where we are reacting instead of responding, to any kind of trigger, stimuli, and challenges that we have in our lives, as well as the good things. Sometimes when we are operating in a high level of prolonged stress it is also affecting the chemical makeup of our brains and our bodies.
So, let’s talk about what stress does to our bodies. The first thing that happens in a stressful situation is that adrenaline is created which then turns in to cortisol. The cortisol then travels through the body and moves through your bloodstream and causes your hormone levels to be elevated, your organs to work extra hard, and your brain to slow down. These reactions are normal and a part of life. Unfortunately, many of us are living in a constant state of stress arousal. This affects us long term with a debilitating impact on our body’s ability to operate optimally. What mindfulness does is allows us to take a break to quickly recover from stressors, by being able to release that pressure on a regular basis. By having that ability your body is able to respond when it needs to and isn’t in a constant state of arousal. Being in a constant state of arousal degrades the effectiveness of all of our bodies organs and eventually has a long-term effect on our quality of life.
The next benefit that I would like to discuss is being able to allow your thoughts to flow freely. I know that sounds like a weird thing to say but science has shown that when you are in a state of stress that your brain does not function as it would when it is in a state of peace, calm, and restfulness. What does happen is that our thoughts tend to be reactionary and really grounded in the past. And what I mean by grounded in the past it is actually not allowing us to respond to the current situation in the present, but in order to react quickly, our brains look back in the past to find a situation that was similar and reacts based on that situation in the past. It may not even be logically similar, but a sort of muscle memory takes over. Having mindfulness practices allows us to step back and provides space in a situation to allow us to respond to what is happening in the present with full awareness of where we are in the present moment. We have the time then to figure out a solution or a desired response based on what is happening to you right now.
Reduced stress also allows you to have more of an awareness of emotions: how you really feel, and the emotions of others. By allowing that space for compassion, for care and for connection you are reducing the level of stress in your life that comes from reacting rather than responding. The very fact that you are practicing mindfulness as a regular part of your life, allows you to be more compassionate with yourself and others. It allows you to have access to emotional intelligence. As your emotional intelligence is increased, it is less likely that you are going to be entering into conflicts with others, and I might add, with yourself. With an added level of self-compassion and compassion for others, you are able to inhibit your stress response and live more fully in the life that you want. Mindfulness practices also give you the ability to switch. To think differently. To communicate for connection rather than conflict. Your mindfulness practices support you in creating that space that allows for you to be in a relationship the way that you want to be based on your needs and desires right now instead of in the past.
There is so much! I could go on and on. No really, I could! These three to me are the ones I find most impactful in supporting your best life. Reducing the impact of stress on our bodies, our mental wellbeing and relationships. That is huge!
Have a great week! Namaste’