What is mindfulness and how can we use it as a tool to help reduce stress and increase resiliency? Mindfulness is to focus only on things happening in the present moment, to purposefully pay attention and be aware of your surroundings, emotions and thoughts. To be practice mindfulness is to not judge the present moment. This is because judgments may lead you to dwell on bad situations, feelings, or thoughts. Dwelling on the past does not help you accept or solve problems. Studies show that Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) helped people sleep better and feel less anxious, it was even linked to helping ease depression symptoms. Taking part in MBSR has been linked to positive changes in the areas of the brain that affect how you pay attention, how you feel and how you think. So as a staff how can we start working on our personal mindfulness as well as sharing learned techniques with our students? Here are a few things to try:
- When you go outside, take a few deep breaths. What’s the air like? Is it warm or cold? How does the warmth or chill feel on your skin? Try to accept that feeling and not resist it. Notice any plants, their colours and the contrast of those colours against the sky and clouds.
- When you can, take some time at the beginning of your day to sit alone and think. Focus on your breathing. Gaze out the window or listen to lite music. Take a slow walk by yourself, count your steps while you breathe in and out.
- Eat a meal in silence. Don’t do anything but focus on your food. Smell your food before eating it. Notice what your food looks like. Eat slowly and savour each bite. What flavours do you taste?
- Try a guided mindfulness video as suggested in the LPSD On the Way to Wellness email: https://wellness.mcmaster.ca/stay-well/mindfulness-resources/
Chiesa A, Serretti A (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: A review and meta-analysis. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(5): 593–600.
Keng SL, et al. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(6): 1041–1056.