• 5 Integrative Techniques for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

    by Dr. Payal Bhandari
    on Sep 5th, 2017

If we want to maintain long-lasting health and well-being, it is clear that stress management needs to be a priority in our hectic lives. Even a slight decrease may prove to be extremely beneficial in the long run. While there are many ways to combat stress and its adverse effects, integrative healthcare focuses on finding all-encompassing, holistic, and personalized solutions, by promoting the incorporation mindfulness practices in each person’s daily routine.

During an event or situation that is perceived stressful by the body, a lot of unfavorable physiological processes take place, ranging from increased stress hormone production to heightened immune system response. By utilizing these self-defense mechanisms, the body attempts to adapt to the change and protect itself from harm. These defense mechanisms work well in the short-term, but over time can be quite damaging to the body. High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, depression and anxiety, obesity, allergies, asthma, and a vast array of other chronic diseases may follow the prolonged exposure to stress. This is why chronic stress is currently considered to be the most deadly factor in disease development today.

One way to combat chronic stress is to use mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques. Below are five integrative techniques for practicing mindfulness and reducing your stress levels.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a psychological state that encourages the individual to fully embrace the sensation of each moment by focusing on what actually is happening in the present. Mindfulness focuses on letting go of negative emotions about the past or anxious thoughts about the future, and realizing that none of these can be altered by worrying. The practice of remaining in a calm emotional state allows a lot of unnecessary stress-related damage to be avoided. This frees the mind and the body from the long-term harmful effects of stress.

Integrative medicine offers several ways to introduce the practice of mindfulness-based stress reduction into our lives.

Mindfulness Meditation

Being present for what is taking place at the moment is an acquired skill. The benefits are incredibly rewarding. The most important task to master is to focus on the self, rather than outside factors that cannot be changed, thereby eliminating a significant percentage of daily anxieties, and giving back the power to each individual to accept their journey. This allows you to begin a self-transformation from within, as opposed to depending on circumstances and automatic physiological and emotional responses.

Nutrition Counseling

Practicing mindfulness is vital when it comes to consuming a nutritionally dense diet. By remaining peacefully observant and in the moment, you can discover various triggers that lead to emotional eating or overindulgence in empty calories. You can also learn to enjoy a largely plant-based diet that promotes physical well-being and proper nourishment. A healthy diet will prepare the body to fight off the harmful effects of emotional or environmental stress more successfully. Being mindful also helps you tune into the body's actual nutritional needs, and to honor this connection by following this internal guidance system, rather than allowing emotions, anxieties, or external circumstances to elicit poor dietary choices.

Regular Physical Activity

Physical activity promotes the production of stress-relieving hormones, which greatly improve emotional well-being and evoke a positive mental connection to exercise. Being in-motion throughout the day is a major component of mindfulness-based stress reduction. An integrative physician can help you select the right type of activity that fits your physical condition, offers the greatest amount of stress relief, and promotes your overall health.

Getting Enough Sleep and Rest

Chronic stress usually goes hand-in-hand with prolonged sleep deprivation. It is crucial to improve the quality and quantity of rest, relaxation, and sleep you receive on a daily basis. The body finds balance by restoring its optimal night-time hormone production, and is no longer in a state of extreme exhaustion. Healthy energy levels are restored and ensure better mental and emotional well-being, further reducing the ongoing harmful effects of stress.

Medications, Vitamins, and Supplements

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are very common in overstressed, out-of-balance, and fatigued individuals, requiring prompt solutions by integrative physicians. Mindfulness-based stress reduction methods are incredibly useful for tuning into the body's nutritional needs. Your integrative physician can help you to understand how your body’s physical state and accompanying symptoms are directly tied to underlying nutritional deficits.  A personalized treatment plan will then be created that incorporates the supplements and/or pharmaceutical medications required to start the healing process.

The Importance of Working With an Integrative Physician

Since chronic stress is the culprit for such a vast array of physical diseases, it is imperative to request the help of a highly trained medical professional to reap all the benefits that mindfulness-based stress reduction has to offer. By synthesizing all the available data about your physical and emotional symptoms, mood, nutritional needs, lifestyle habits, environment, and your unique circumstances, your integrative physician can create a treatment plan that helps with optimal stress management.

San Francisco’s top integrative physician, Dr. Payal Bhandari, M.D. encourages you to contact her immediately, should you experience any stress-related symptoms, physical or otherwise. She is passionate about mindfulness-based stress reduction methods to improve your overall well-being and to empower you to take charge of your health, based on your unique needs and circumstances.

Author Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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