living with mindfulness - managing stress
A Healthy Hearts Guide ®
Stress is a normal part of every day life.
While you may not be able to prevent many stressful situations, you
can control your reactions to them. Practicing mindfulness each day can help.
Reactions to stress can have a negative effect on
health. It can lead to high blood pressure, a rapid resting pulse rate and can
cause heart rhythm disturbances. Reactions to stress can weaken the immune
system which then leads to a variety of illnesses. It is important to learn how
to handle stress.
Mindfulness Meditation has been shown to help a person manage stressful situations by
increasing one’s awareness and by making the mind more receptive to one’s
current situation and internal states. It is a method of fully embracing with
minimal resistance one’s current life situation and internal states.
One can bring about increased awareness to any activity. Here are some examples:
- Being Mindful of Emotions
With Mindfulness Meditation, one can learn to be less
judgmental. Being less judgmental helps to bring about a more relaxed state. One
can learn to watch anger and other emotional states with compassion. This
enables one to eventually let go of these states or, at least, keep from
- Being Mindful of Eating
Increasing one’s awareness of eating may benefit those who are trying to make
changes in their eating habits. Here is how to increase your awareness of eating.
- Look at the food you are about to eat. Focus on what
it consists of. Ask yourself,"Do I still want to take this food into my
- Pay close attention to every bite. Food eaten
mindfully will be easier to digest and you will be less likely to overeat.
- Just after eating, notice how the food you ate
affects your digestive system. Does it agree with you? Notice how you feel
when eating a low fat meal versus a high fat meal...a candy bar snack versus
a raw vegetable snack.
- Mindful Stretching Exercises
Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises done
very slowly with moment to moment awareness of breathing and of the sensations
that arise is yoga. Yoga seeks to unite the body, mind and spirit. This
can result in improved health and vitality.
- Mindful Breathing and Sitting as a Meditation
Mindful breathing and sitting (meditation) helps to
relax and focus the mind. Just 5 minutes a day can make you feel more refreshed
and energetic. Here are some guidelines for practicing mindful breathing and sitting:
- Make a special time and place for “non–doing”.
- Adopt an alert and relaxed body posture.
- Look dispassionately at the reactions and habits of
- Bring your attention to your breathing by counting
silently “1” on inhalation and “2” on exhalation, “3” on
inhalation, etc. When you reach number “10”, return to number “1”.
(If you go beyond the number 10, then you know your mind has wandered).
- When your mind wanders, name what it wanders to and
come back to the breathing.
- Once you have practiced focusing on your breathing,
you can use sensation, sound or watching thoughts as your point of
You cannot prevent stressful situations in life, but
you can control your reactions to them. Practicing mindfulness
The beliefs surrounding Mindfulness stem from the Buddhist faith. It is used by many Eastern cultures. The practical use of Mindfulness outlined herein was extrapolated from the teachings of Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Diet and Exercise Log
An Exercise Calendar
Starting a Walking Program
Living with Mindfulness
Intro to Exercise
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