Happiness stems from perception: a positive outlook reframes any circumstance, no matter what life throws your way. However, changing your outlook is easier said than done.
Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D., Integrative Functional Medicine Physician, will be presenting on Wednesday July 25th, 2018 on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and the impact that stress-reduction can have on health.
Our hope is to inform our readers of the beneficial effects mindfulness practices can have in helping those who experience stress, anxiety, chronic pain, or any related form of mental distress. At Advanced Health, we believe that daily practices of mindfulness can contribute to lifelong wellness.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction was developed in the late 1970’s, blending meditation techniques with body awareness and yoga to help people cultivate and practice mindfulness. Mindfulness, in this case, refers to the deliberate psychological awareness of the present moment and the experiences currently occurring. Those experiences might include intrusive thoughts, worries, pain or other malady, rumination, self-deception, and so on, or they might include gratitude, contentment, satisfaction, ease, and others.
In either case, the practice of mindfulness (cognate with the Pali term sati) is to recognize and accept the present condition without judgment or expectation. In various Buddhist teachings, the awareness is a major part of the gradual process that eventually leads one to enlightenment, and frees one from suffering.
Mindfulness is an ongoing, lifelong practice, but in a clinical setting, it is a guided invitation to integrate the experiences of the present moment. In so doing, one develops self-knowledge that can provide tangible therapeutic benefits.
The guiding principle of integrative medicine is that each specific system and process in the body is related to every other part of the broader whole. Stress, whether it’s environmental, circumstantial, mental, or physical, devastates a person’s health, often through these same sorts of systemic interactions.
Stress changes the chemistry of a person’s body. These changes can negatively impact a properly functioning digestive system and can lead to malnutrition, dysbiosis of our gut microbiome, and can cause inflammation of the GI system, making an individual more susceptible to various gut related infections and conditions.
Stress can also have an effect on one’s hormones, directly affecting the synchronicity of hormones and various rhythms, like menstruation, for example. Additionally, stress triggers an increase in the body’s fight-or-flight hormone levels, as if the body were under attack. In response, the body releases extra energy in the form of glucose, temporarily increasing blood sugar. For those who experience long-term stress, a temporary rise in blood sugar can develop into a prolonged state of high blood sugar, leading to type-2 diabetes.
Chronic stress can lead to sleeping disorders, the most common being insomnia. Because sleep is so important to our overall health, lack of sleep can affect our bodies in so many ways. It can have an affect on our mood, on our digestive system, and on our mental capacities- all of which can exacerbate the stress response.
It’s important to effectively manage and reduce stress before it becomes detrimental to your health. Stress management begins with identifying the sources of stress in your life. Stressors include people, experiences, jobs, etc. Once identified, strategies to manage these stressors include lifestyle factors like eating a healthy diet, being physically active, and getting enough sleep.
Sleep is very important for your emotional and physical well being. As mentioned, lack of sleep can negatively impact your ability to handle stress and function properly. Taking an hour before bed each night to meditate or decompress will help promote a full night’s uninterrupted rest. A hot bath or massage can help relieve muscle tension, ultimately reducing any pain and loosening the body to help sleep comfortably.
Beyond treating sleep disturbances, dietary changes can help mitigate the impact of ongoing stress. Certain foods, especially fermented or probiotic foods, can help aid digestion and restore a normal pH level of the digestive tract.
Yoga and regular exercise can help to relieve stress and reassert normal hormone levels.
Lastly, a regular practice of guided mindfulness meditation will not only help to manage stress, but can also prevent stress from reoccurring. A guided meditation will walk you through the process of cultivating that awareness of the body, and the present condition. It teaches one to accept thoughts or intuitions as they float to the surface, and examine them uncritically but dispassionately, before setting them aside. It’s that experience, the setting aside, that is most useful. As that process becomes intuitive, it inoculates one against the impact of a potential stressor.
By removing that indeliberate susceptibility, it becomes possible to establish the habits that will bring feelings of confidence, security, and clarity. Mindfulness is the key to lasting mental and physical wellness.
Advanced Health’s integrative and functional practice is uniquely suited to support each of these mindfulness-based stress reduction strategies. We provide psychological counseling, consultations from our holistic physicians and nutritionist, and acupuncture and massage therapy.
These mindfulness-based stress reduction strategies will be discussed in more detail during Dr. Bhandari’s presentation on Wednesday, July 25th at 5:30 p.m. -7:00 p.m. at our clinic.
You can also get Dr. Bhandari’s FREE ebook about 10 ways to reduce stress!
If you are suffering from stress and would like to discuss treatment plans for effectively managing and reducing stress, book a consultation at Advanced Health to begin your path to lifelong wellness.
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