We face a struggle every. single. day.
That struggle is called stress, and I think I can honestly say that we all feel some level of stress daily, right?! In fact, current research has uncovered the following statistics about stress:
- 49% of adults in the US feel that stress negatively affects their behavior
- 75+% of adults experience stress symptoms like sleeping problems, headaches, and/or tiredness
- 80% of workers in the US experience job-related stress
The stress we deal with on a daily basis might not be due to an acute stressful situation—like some sort of immediate conflict, but maybe it’s chronic financial stress. Or chronic job-related stress. Or chronic relationship-related stress.
No matter the source of our stress, we will go through our lives encountering different stress triggers, often multiple times every single day. However, the problem isn’t the stress. It is our response to the stress.
How we deal with stress can lead us to some negative behaviors where we’re seeking relief from the suffering. Whether it is food, alcohol, drugs, sex, and even self harm. No matter the cause, our response to stress can wreak havoc on all aspects of our lives.
If we can learn how to manage our stress, we are much less likely to start to reach for different patches or band aids that might give us temporary relief from the stress but that will ultimately lead to even more suffering long-term.
Here’s an example: Say you’re dealing with some crazy financial stress or a difficult relationship stress. Often, your first thought, conscious or unconscious, on how to deal with that stress starts with heading straight for the drive-thru and order triple of all your favorites. Or pop a pill. Or drink a 6-pack.
Let’s be honest here: When you do this, you’re not looking to eat food or get drunk, you’re looking to escape the pain, the suffering, THE STRESS.
Flip the Script: Mindfulness to Reduce Stress
So, here’s the crucial question: How can we combat the daily stressors of our lives and manage them in healthy and positive ways? While these may not be the end-all-be-all to solving your stress responses, these practices can be powerful weapons to add to your stress-management arsenal.
To be honest, I never really thought much about mindfulness or even breathing for most of my life. But over the past few years, I’ve come to learn that being present, mindful, and focused on intentional breathing can give instant relief to a stressful situation.
Mindfulness exercises—even for a couple of minutes, can reduce our stress levels, help us better understand our thoughts and emotions, and put us in a more focused, calm, and relaxed state where we can then make much more rational and focused decisions.
What is Mindfulness: The term “mindfulness” is used in a lot of different ways, but it ultimately refers to the practice of and achieving a psychological state of awareness and presence within a moment. Simply put, the purpose of mindfulness is to bring us back from whatever we’re experiencing (often dwelling in the past or ruminating about the future) to the here and now. The right now. The present moment.
Mindfulness can be done through many different techniques from breathing to guided sensory awareness, meditation, visualization methods, and even the practice of slowly tasting foods or liquids to experience all of the sensations in the process.
In the KEPT approach to transformation, we do this through suggestions and by engaging all five of our senses: Touch, taste, hearing, sight, and smell. Here’s how it works for some of the senses we’re targeting:
- Sight: Look around and notice your nearest surroundings. What is closest to you? Notice the light in the room. Is it well lit or is it dim? If you are able to look out at a distance, how far can you see? Then bring your attention back to your nearest surroundings and your location in the room or wherever you may be.
- Hearing: What can you hear right now? See if you can identify every sound, from the whirring of an appliance to the chirping of birds to cars on the road. What can you hear right now?
- Feeling: This is a top down exercise: Feel any tightness or tension you might have at the top of your head. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, release those muscles. Then move down from your head to your shoulders and neck, taking a deep breath and releasing any tension, continuing this process throughout your body.
Mindfulness + Breathing Techniques
Bonus: Mindfulness does include breathing, but in the KEPT approach, we’ve separated mindfulness and breathing into two very specific modules. The mindfulness module does include a little bit of breathing because it takes you through all of the five senses, but…breathing is so important that it has its own separate and unique module.
The truth is that we simply cannot underestimate the power of this practice when it comes to stress management, transformation, and weight loss goals. With the right mindset, you can reach your goals, my friends!