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Less Stress Means a Healthier Life

For many people, it feels easier to joke about gaining the COVID-15 than to talk about stress eating or the mental health effects of a pandemic. But when we experience stress, it affects our overall well-being: our physical bodies, our behaviors, and our moods. It’s a fact; we are less healthy when we do not have a handle on our mental health.

But did you know there are simple daily practices you can add to your life rhythms to ease current and ongoing stress?

According to a recent study published in Preventive Medicine Reports, there are contemplative practice behaviors you can add to your every day to relieve stress.

Be present with yourself

Breathe deeply

Gently Stretch

Hold still and notice your senses (what do you smell, see, taste, hear)

Be present with attitude

Pause routine activities to observe and modify the way you think about yourself. Move negative thoughts to more self-compassionate thoughts.

Pay attention and name emotions and thoughts rather than reacting as they arise.

For years, contemplative practices have helped individuals suffering from severe diseases. People using these practices have stronger emotional well-being, reduced stress, and prevented further illness.

But, recently, COVID stay-at-home orders in California allowed researchers to study the power of contemplative practices on people who were stuck at home and experiencing stress. What did the study reveal? Participants who added these simple practices throughout the day lowered their distress and likelihood of depression.

So, what does this mean for you? Try thinking of ways to incorporate contemplative practices into your day right now. Put a note on your car dashboard or on your fridge to remind you to pay attention to your breathing. Use the moment at a traffic light to notice your surroundings – what can you see, hear, etc. Or when you feel anger, fear or frustration rising in you at work or home, take a moment to name the feeling, and find its root.

It might surprise you that such small changes in your day can make such a difference.

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