Its that time of year again, school’s back. Summer was great and packed with fun but just seemed to fly by so quickly. Back to school means that kids and parents will all be busier. Life becomes more hectic with homework, sports events, clubs and other after school activities. For parents working their schedules around their children’s activities can be tough sometimes. With increased demands and activities on the schedule stress can build up fast!
There are times in life, with the changing of the seasons, that stress can become unavoidable. Packed schedules can pull us in all directions. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, or just mindfulness, is the art and practice of being present in the moment with whatever it is that you happen to be doing. Mindfulness is a form of mediation. Our society today relies heavily on electronics and encourages multitasking as a means to getting things done faster. Often in our society this can lead to racing thoughts so that even when we are doing one thing we are thinking about another. This can quickly lead to burnout and exhaustion if we are not careful. Increased stress produces more of the hormone cortisol which can weaken the body’s natural immune response. Mindfulness works by hitting the “reset button” so to speak. It works because of a term called neuroplasticity. This term simply means that the brain is able to adapt and change with proper input. If you give the brain the same input over time it will become it’s new normal.
So what are some of the benefits of mindfulness and how do I do it you may ask? Great question! First we will start with the benefits then I will give you a simple mindfulness routine to practice. Mindfulness practice has many benefits which are backed by research. These include: increased ability to focus on a task at hand, better working memory, better sleep, decreased levels of cortisol a hormone produced during stress, lower blood pressure levels, and improved immune response. Research also suggests that mindfulness can be helpful for those suffering from depression and chronic pain. This is not an exhaustive list as mindfulness is still being studied but is just meant to spark your interest. Now for the how. Here is a basic mindfulness/mediation routine. The goal is to get rid of all the racing thoughts and distractions and “tune-in” to your own body.
Step 1: sit cross-legged on a cushion on the floor or in a chair. Keep your back straight and let your shoulders drop. Take a deep breath and close your eyes if you wish. Step 2: Notice your breath. Don’t change your breathing, but focus on the sensation of air moving in and out of your nostrils. Step 3: As thoughts come into your mind and distract you from your breathing, acknowledge those thought and then return to focusing on your breathing each time. Step 4: Don’t judge yourself or try to ignore distractions. Your job is simply to notice that your mind has wandered and to bring your attention back to your breathing. Step 5: Start by doing this 10 minutes a day for a week.
There you have, it mediation in five easy steps.
I hope you find this brief letter helpful in reducing your back to school stress. Mindfulness is just one technique out there to relief stress naturally. Be patient with yourself as you start this new practice in your life. It may seem hard to do at first but it will get easier with time.
Time Magazine. The Science of Happiness: New Discoveries For A More Joyful Life.
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Recipe Of The Month
Broccoli Avocado and Lime Salad
3 ripe avocados
1.5 broccoli head
1 handful of fresh coriander
Juice of 3 limes
2 TBS of tahini
3 TBS olive oil
2 Tsp tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
2 tsp honey or pure maple syrup
A sprinkling of salt
Slice the broccoli into small, bite-sized pieces and steam them for about 7 minutes, until cooked but a little crunchy. Place on side to cool.
Slice the avocados in half, peel their skin away and remove their stones. Then slice the fresh avocado into small cubes.
Chop the coriander into tiny pieces and mix with the avocado and broccoli in a salad bowl.
Then mix the salad dressing together by simply squeezing the limes then stirring everything together in a mug
Once mixed, pour it over the salad and then enjoy!