Heart Break – Ways to Reduce Stress
In today’s life stress is everywhere. People are overworked, stretched thin, under paid and often unhappy with their life situation. All of these circumstances place a significant amount of both emotional and physical stress on the body. According to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, “Stress is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. People with excessive stress may have high-blood pressure and elevated levels of blood cholesterol and be overweight.” Finding ways to reduce stress can often be as stressful as the stress we are looking to reduce. Engaging in mindful activity is an extremely easy and effective practice in reducing the stress load in one’s life.

Most of the human population goes about their daily routine in autopilot; that is they unconsciously go about their business without paying attention. Most of us have very similar days when it comes to routines: we wake up, shower, get dressed, make coffee, prepare the kids and off to work. Since our surroundings and activities are very familiar it is easy for the mind to become preoccupied with planning and preparing.  Often when our minds are busy thinking about future outcomes we are living in an anxious state. Anxiety, regardless of the severity, contributes to stress and in turn creates a negative impact on our heart health.

Research indicates that people who practice mindfulness are at less risk of heart disease. By intentionally placing your attention on the present moment, in the absence of judgement, stress indicators in the body reduce significantly such as blood pressure, heart rate and blood cortisol levels. People begin to recognize and respond to their emotional needs rather than react, or in most cases, over react to stressful life situations. Spending as little as 10 minutes a day focusing on mindful skills can be enough to dramatically reduce the amount of stress in one’s life.

Mindfulness is not meditation. Although meditation is a key component in a well-rounded mindful practice, it is not the only way one can learn to be present. The most important concept of mindfulness is creating an intention. Without a goal, aim, or focus we are extremely prone to falling into autopilot. Through setting an intention the creation of grounding and awareness begins to develop as you participate in your daily activities. As the awareness grows one’s perception of the action begins to shift from that of judgement to curiosity. When we go through life wearing curious lenses, we are less susceptible to unnecessary stress.

You can start today! Like all things that are important in your life, you must prioritize and schedule time for you. This may mean waking up earlier, going to bed later or perhaps foregoing some screen time to make time for you. You may choose to listen to a guided meditation, or perhaps simply become aware of your five senses: sight, sounds, smell, touch and taste, or simply connect with your breath. There are no rules except for paying attention. However, many people wish to participate in a more structured training program to help them get the most from their practice. If you are interested in formalized training you can participate in the 8-week Mindfulness for Stress Reduction course featured at the Lavallee Health Centre…because It’s for YOUR Life!