The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our concept of a “normal life,” and as a result, has increased many of our stress levels. It is important for us to find ways to reduce our stress, as it can be easy for us to get caught up in the moment and let it take control over our lives and diminish our quality of life. A particularly effective way we can ease stress is through mindfulness. This technique can help you return your focus to what is important.
Mindfulness requires you to purposely pay attention to what is happening in the present moment. The most common method is to focus on breathing in and out, clearing your mind of thoughts. You can also focus on your physical self, your surroundings or your movements as you do a normal daily activity such as walking. Mindfulness helps you re-center and reduce external distractions. It allows you to evaluate yourself and your reactions to stressors around you.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction has been around since the 1970s, and numerous scientific studies have shown its effectiveness, as well as other positive benefits including a decrease in anxiety and depression. Some studies have shown mindful eating can be a tool for weight management.
You can practice mindfulness anytime or anywhere as long as you turn your focus inward and allow distractions to fade away. For more information on mindfulness, contact the Letcher County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.