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Refocus Your Mind to Manage Stress

A lot of people are talking about mindfulness. It is a way to bring your attention to the moment, manage stress and improve health through breathing, thinking and meditation.

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What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is becoming aware of things you were previously unaware of, such as your attention, attitude and thoughts. It helps you live in the moment which helps manage stress.

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What does being mindful mean?

Practicing mindfulness creates an overall awareness of every day moments, actions and feelings to help your mind return to the present moment, to your breathing and to what you are feeling.

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How does mindfulness improve health?

Research shows that over time, mindfulness improves sleep, reduces blood pressure, supports the immune system, helps manage depression and anxiety, and it may even reduce heart disease.

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Does mindfulness improve brain function?

Mindfulness changes the brain’s structure and improves the areas that control emotions and handle stress. Research indicates that mindfulness slows cognitive aging and the brain’s response to pain.

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What activities are involved in mindfulness?

Mindfulness uses breathing, quiet contemplation, meditation and focus to help you let go of stress and become calm.

Woman meditating

How do you get started practicing mindfulness?

Set aside 10 minutes to sit or stand in a quiet place. Relax and focus on breathing in and out, and on what you are feeling in your chest, nose and stomach.

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After focusing on breathing what else can I do to be mindful?

Add “stay in the moment” thinking to everyday activities such as washing your hands, smelling your shampoo or tasting of your food.

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Use the refocus technique when you are stressed.

Don’t ignore or push away anxious thoughts, recognize what you are feeling stressed about and where the stress is coming from. Then take a breath and observe what’s happening around you.

Man lying peacefully on yoga mat

Here is a way to clear your mind.

Sit up tall on the floor and fold your legs in or cross them in front of you. Relax your shoulders, rest your palms on your thighs and close your eyes. Inhale deeply and slowly while you count to four, then exhale and repeat 10 times.

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Practice mindfulness anywhere.

Take a few moments to focus on your breathing before getting out of bed, while you are cooking a meal, when you are waiting at a red light, while you are checking your social media or while you are reading email at work.


This information has been reviewed and approved by Andrew Freeman, MD, Lata Shirname-More, PhD, and Ann Mullen, AE-C, CNS, MSN, RN (March 2018).