By Kaytie Mero, MA
“We all deal with stress on a daily basis…it’s inescapable, and it brings with it a host of uncomfortable and distracting symptoms. Stress isn’t just a feeling or a mental state; if you don’t address it, it seeps into every aspect of your life” (Ackerman, 2021).
The Mental Health Foundation defines stress as the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental, physical, or emotional pressure. Good stress can inspire and motivate, it can focus your energy and enhance your performance; however, bad stress can leave you feeling drained, physically, emotionally, and mentally. You may feel worn out, have headaches, and little motivation. Bad stress, especially long-term, can be extremely harmful to your overall health. Our society has been surviving in a pandemic for almost two years, and while resiliency is building daily, there is no doubt…we are stressed.
So, what is one way we can better cope with stress? Sure, routines, self-care, and personal mantras can certainly help, but another proven way to deal with life’s daily stressors is through Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). MBSR can not only assist with stress, but it can also help with anxiety, depression, pain, and even chronic health problems. While we cannot always change the circumstances around ourselves, we can learn to choose how to better respond to them. What exactly is MBSR? MBSR consists of two components, mindfulness meditation and yoga, and can be personalized based on one’s needs. Clients will understand the importance of “making each moment count by consciously bringing it into awareness…into the present moment.” Meditation helps us take responsibility for our mental state, alter our reactions to experiences, and produce more positive outcomes. It facilitates awareness and gives us the ability to change our thought patterns, emotions, and how we experience stress. Eating, walking, and breathing can all be used as a form of meditation, helping us focus on our senses, our bodies, and awareness to our surroundings.
Below is one popular MBSR exercise, Worry or Urge “Surfing”
View your thoughts and feelings as “surfing” on a wave. Turn your awareness to the warning signs of a negative feeling like worry, anxiety, or anger approaching. Imagine the negative emotion coming at you like a wave that gets bigger and bigger as it approaches, then crests as it reaches you, and finally falls as it moves away. Imagine “riding” that wave as it passes, and let the negative emotion go with it. Make sure to celebrate your ability to let the emotion go, but acknowledge that more will come eventually and remember to “ride the wave” again when they do (The Mindful Word, 2012)
Interested in this approach?