How Does Mindfulness Reduce Stress?

It’s usually something tiny, such as a comment made in passing, a random reaction to a situation, or a thought about the past, that when unchecked escalates into an avalanche of stress.

Before you know it you are tumbling through worries about the future, wonder how many things would have been different had you only done X, Y or Z and it might even go so far that you question your entire life’s purpose as you figure out you are not happy where you are at all.

All it takes is for that one small thing to happen at the wrong time to completely burry us in a stress beyond measure.

For instance, in my own life, one of the worst moments in my life came from not being able to completely fill out a single Test in college in time, which, over the course of about 6 hours worth of negative spirals, led to me almost not being here today.

When we are mindful, however, we do not allow the stress to get that big a hold on us.

We become more aware of what matters, that the thought is just a thought and does not mean anything, and that our future is not yet written in stone.

We essentially become more aware of our options in life and get closer to the reality of things; that is why you often say people who are very mindful are “grounded”.

But what does all of these mean exactly?

To put it in very simple terms, becoming more mindful means becoming more aware of the thoughts you have.

Only when you are aware that you are thinking about something can you change it.

For instance, up until this moment you were thinking something. All throughout the day you had about 6,000 thoughts on average, few of which you deliberately chose.

But, now that you have put your awareness on your thoughts, if I ask you to actively think about something that will put a smile on your face, you could likely come up with something, be it a small puppy, a fun video you watched or a beautiful scenery you witnessed.

Just like that you were able to change the thought you had.

If you use this simple principle when you are starting to have negative thoughts or when you are feeling down, you can easily change your life.

Mindfulness helps you do just that.

It trains you in being aware and addressing the thoughts as just that; thoughts.

Instead of buying into a possibility of the future you will look at the thought for what it is worth and change it accordingly.

This will of course not change your life immediately, nor will it remove the source of all the stress in your life.

But if you do this to the majority of your thoughts a day, it’s simply much more likely that you will have more positive thoughts and won’t stress out so much.

Which then in turn creates opportunities for you to work your way out of that stress; something that would have been blocked otherwise as you were too busy worrying.

The moment of pause is all you need to address the situation in a better way.

We are all often smart enough to find our way out of any rut. We just rarely get to that point because we are so busy driving ourselves into a corner.

When you give yourself a moment to assess the situation, when you become aware of what is going on, the control you gain often removes or at least drastically reduces any stress you feel.

And, when made habitual, will make all of life much more relaxed.

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Lukas Schwekendiek

Lukas Schwekendiek

3.5K Followers

Life Coach, Speaker, Writer. Published on TIME, Inc & Huffington Post.