There are many challenges and stressors that individuals undergo on a day-to-day basis. Research shows that there are various negative consequences associated with stress. These consequences consist of increased depression, emotional exhaustion, anxiety, psychological isolation, job dissatisfaction, disrupted personal relationships, and loneliness. Additionally, stress impacts ones ability to be effective in their daily activities due to the fact that stress impacts concentration, attention, and decision-making. In order to help decrease the stress of our daily activities, it is important to engage in self-care. Self-care consists of any activity that we deliberately do in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.
There are various components of self-care that are important, including self-awareness, self-regulation, coping, balancing the self and other interests. Research shows that stress reduction programs, such as mindfulness, target self-awareness, which leads to increased psychological well-being, physical well-being, and mental health. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs, increase our ability to be mindful, which helps to reduce identification with self-focused thoughts and emotions to lead to poorer mental health. These programs help to decrease stress, negative affect, anxiety, rumination, and increase positive affect and self-compassion. Below are five mindfulness practices that the program highlights as a method to increase mindfulness practice and decrease stress reduction.
1. Sitting Meditation: This includes finding a comfortable upright sitting posture on the floor or in the chair and then integrating mindfulness of breath and body.
2. Body Scan: Focuses attention on physical sensations in the body.
3. Guided Loving Kindness Meditation: a great way to cultivate our propensity for kindness. It involves mentally sending goodwill, kindness, and warmth towards others by silently repeating a series of mantras.
4. Hatha Yoga: Hatha yoga is a general category that includes most yoga styles. It includes the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises), which help bring peace to the mind and body.
5. Formal practices that bring mindfulness into day-to-day life
Author: Gabriella Podolski, M.A.
Shapiro, S. L., Brown, K. W., & Biegel, G. M. (2007) Teaching self-care to caregivers: Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on the mental health of therapists in training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 1(2), 105-115. Doi:10.1037/1931-39126.96.36.199