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Mindfulness & Stress

Attaining a mindful perspective helps us to become better in-tune with the present. Mindfulness promotes an appreciation of the moment at hand, allowing us to make decisions and take action with a clarity that is not normally available to the untrained mind. One of the biggest advantages of having a mindful perspective is an improved ability to deal with stress.

Eustress Vs Distress

Stress is an unavoidable part of life. There are good and bad kinds of stress. Eustress, the good type, helps us survive and motivates us to achieve personal goals. It is associated with positive energy and desirable outcomes. We usually refer to the bad kind of stress as simply “stress”, but it is more clinically known as distress. The body does not react well to distress. It is unnecessary, unhelpful, and can ultimately cause a lot of damage.

Gaining Mindful Awareness

We can use mindfulness to help reduce bad stress in a number of ways. First, it can help us tell the difference between eustress and distress. Stress can come from many sources. Eustress is usually the result of normal body functions and reactions to imminent events. In other words, good stress is mostly generated by things that are happening in the present. Distress, on the other hand, is strongly linked to the past and future. There are exceptions, like the extreme distress that can be experienced during traumatic events, but the majority of bad stress comes from our attachments to memories and concerns about the future.

Using Mindful Techniques to Reduce Stress

Once we’re mindfully aware of the nature of bad stress, we can work on changing our focus to dealing with only the stressors that are applicable to the present. Some memories, or at least the lessons learned from them, can be useful in daily activities. Similarly, prediction and planning can be helpful tools. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to spend too much time dwelling on the often random thoughts that regularly pop into our minds. This is especially true if any of these thoughts are linked to strong emotions. Mindfulness teaches us to filter out these distractions, allowing us to benefit from eustress and minimizing the impact of distress on our well-being.