Feeling Stressed? Regain control through mindfulness.

It’s almost impossible to find anyone in our wired-up, fast-paced culture who is always calm and cool.  Stress is responsible for a lot of sharp words at work and devastating arguments at home. It can also lead to untold doctors visits for issues like heart disease, depression and asthma  … all of which are made worse by stress.

“Being mindful is having the ability to recognize when you have entered a stressed state,” says Monica Verplank, a licensed Mindfulness coach in Grand Haven. “The premise is simple.  When you recognize stress, and understand your response to it, you can take steps to reduce the stress.  This helps you behave more skillfully with others, and also mitigates the damaging effect stress has on the body.”

If you stop to think about it, you probably know what stress feels like.  It’s that knot in the pit of your stomach, or your clenched jaw; the racing heartbeat or pounding headache.  There’s no doubt that stress produces physical, painful, and eventually damaging symptoms.  It also causes us to lash out at people in ways we might regret later.

Here’s the good news. There are specific practices you can employ to counteract your stressed state. This is more than just feel-good psychology. Modern neuroscience has a good grasp on what happens in the body physiologically when you experience stress. These practices change what is going on in your body and break the damaging cycle of prolonged stress. (And yes, deep breathing is one of them!)  These practices are what make up “mindfulness.”

NOCHS has teamed up with Monica and others in the community to share mindfulness practices for a healthier community.  What are the four elements?

  • Deep breathing: break the stress response any time, anywhere
  • Nutrition: what you put into your body really does matter
  • Exercise: being outdoors has restorative power
  • Sleep: quality sleep is an essential part of renewing your body

“Anyone can learn about managing stress through mindfulness,” says Monica.  “We can learn to respond deliberately instead of reacting automatically.  This has the potential to transform our health and our relationships.”


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