Why Mindfulness Is So Important to Managing Stress, and How It Works

As a perfect complement to Leopoldin’s recent online seminar on Stress and Stress Reduction, qualified psychologist and behavioral therapist Stefanie Holzheimer (Psychosomatic Clinic) spoke to a small group of listeners who recently rated the issue of mindfulness negatively. The relationship between stress and mindfulness becomes clear in the Mindful-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) method developed by the American molecular biologist Jon Kabat-Zinn. This technique, now practiced all over the world, is based on traditional Buddhist types of meditation, but without any spiritual superstructure.

What exactly is mindfulness?

Holzheimer once described mindfulness as drawing attention to the present moment, “here and now,” with an open and kind attitude. Moreover, mindfulness means perceiving without judging or judging. “It is what it is now and I accept it as it is.”

Do I like everything?

No, this acceptance does not mean that you accept everything or think it is wonderful – but it gives you a sense of peace at first. We often judge situations or people as negative too quickly. Then the facts are less important to us than our judgments. The psychologist emphasizes that in everyday life, a quick distinction between “good” and “bad” is very important, often necessary.

What can mindfulness do?

“Mindfulness can help us deal with our feelings in a more relaxed, open, and kind way,” explains Holzheimer. Emotions such as fear, sadness, anger, jealousy, shame, guilt and disgust are often viewed as diseases that we want to get rid of as quickly as possible. But feelings are important signals from our body. Mindfulness exercises help to decode them: we recognize, for example, what we can do next.

At the mercy of thoughts?

Mindfulness helps you to interrupt (nightly) thoughtful thoughts, enjoy the moment, but also find your way or distance yourself from overcrowded thoughts. According to the speaker, with the help of mindfulness it is also possible to identify the imminent relapse of depression or other mental illnesses earlier.

Mindfulness of stress?

Stress has a negative impact on our health and can lead to burnout, depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Constant stress causes many physical ailments, including heart attacks and strokes. Here, in particular, you can reduce this “rush” with mindfulness training to achieve a relaxed, healthy and conscious life.

What are mindfulness exercises?

First, Holzheimer explains the breathing exercises: close your eyes or focus on a point in the room and let the breath come. Find out where you can feel it: chest, abdomen, nasal walls. It consists of inhaling, exhaling and pausing for various periods of time, while longer exhalations reduce stress and calm down. But suddenly my thoughts wander (pain, worries, memories, plans). Let such thoughts calmly go away, return to breathing as an “anchor”.

What is a body scan?

In this exercise, you systematically shift your attention all over your body, from your toes to your head. Non-judgmental perception is also crucial in this exercise: discomfort, tension or pain should be perceived from a neutral observer position. It is about accepting the current situation, which often turns out to be the first step to change. The experience builds up that many feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations come and go on their own if you don’t hold them.

What is the 5-4-3-2-1 method?

In this method of meditation, we focus on external orientation through the conscious use of the three senses: seeing, hearing and feeling. You start out by listing five things you see around you. Holzheimer: “Then note five things that you can hear and name. Then, one by one, notice five things you can feel (feet on the ground, wind on the skin). Then list four things each, then three, and so on. These conscious sensations help to let go of the nagging thoughts and bring you back to the present. Exercise can also help you sleep better and reduce anxiety. “

Where can I learn mindfulness?

Insurance companies and adult education centers offer mindfulness courses, and CD exercise manuals are available from bookstores. In the Leopoldina Psychosomatic Clinic, inpatient treatment is offered for six to seven weeks. Here, mindfulness training is an important part of many psychosomatic therapy offers.

Every Friday Advice by phone from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on tel. (09721) 7206582. Those interested in the place of therapy can contact the ward assistant: tel. (09721) 7203610. E-mail: psychosomatik@leopoldina.de

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