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Mindfulness Monday: How Mindfulness Can Help You Reduce Stress

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Image via Flickr/Image Catalog

by Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD and Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

If you read my blog, you know I am a huge advocate for mindful eating. Mindful eating allows one to eat all foods in a healthy way. But mindfulness is not only beneficial for those trying to conquer disordered eating. It can also help you deal with stress.

If you are a human being living on this planet, you are guaranteed to have a certain amount of stress in your life. Finding a way to control it is vital, as uncontrolled stress is toxic — to our spirits and our health. For example, one Carnegie Mellon study found that “chronic psychological stress” is linked to a lack of regulation of the inflammatory response. A further explanation:

“When under stress, cells of the immune system are unable to respond to hormonal control, and consequently, produce levels of inflammation that promote disease.”

There have a number of articles in the news lately that show how mindfulness works to reduce stress. A recent article in Entrepreneur noted how mindfulness can help tame the runaway train of stress, the “unruly thoughts and behaviors” that come with it. “It is an excellent technique to help reduce stress,” says Entrepreneur, “because it allows you to reduce the feeling of being out of control. Essentially, mindfulness helps you stop jumping from one thought to the next, which keeps you from ruminating on negative thoughts.”

Companies are starting to understand the power mindfulness can have in business. Google even has a head of mindfulness training for their employees.

Children can also benefit from mindfulness. A recent study suggested that mindfulness can even help junior high students. When exposed to a mindfulness-based stress reduction program, students had less evidence of stress and trauma.

“High-quality structured mindfulness programs have the potential to really improve students’ lives in ways that I think can be really meaningful over the life course,” Dr. Erica Sibinga of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine told Reuters.

Not only did the students have fewer symptoms of stress and trauma, they also experienced less in the way of depression, negative thinking, and general health issues.

As this NY Times article shows, mindfulness is a concept that has taken off at schools, for the stress reduction benefits it might offer children.

So how do you get started exploring mindfulness as a concept you can use in your own life and in your child’s? There are many tools that can help you on your journey, such as meditation. My favorite mindfulness helpers — some of which are included in this blog post — include Cratejoy’s monthly mindfulness subscription box, the Mindfulness for Children app and Buddhist monk and Zen Master’s Thich Naht Hanh’s many books on mindfulness, like “Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices,” “Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children” and “How to Relax.” There are also quite a number of mindfulness apps out there that may be able to help you. This Australian psychological study ranks almost two dozen.

It may take a while to find the exact mindfulness helpers that work for you, and a period of time until you are incorporating mindfulness on a regular basis, but the effects it will have on your life will make the effort worthwhile.