Reduce your stress levels with mindfulness - Super Synbiotics
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Reduce your stress levels with mindfulness

Stress is one of the biggest challenges of our time, and its impact on our gut health is huge. In spite of this, not many of us are working proactively on reducing our stress levels. Studies show that one effective way to reduce stress in our everyday lives is practicing mindfulness.

What happens during stress?

The stress reaction is completely natural and actually vital for us. It’s not dangerous when it’s activated in short moments, but actually gives us the ability to perform in demanding situations. It’s the lack of recovery that can give us serious stress-related health problems. The body needs rest in order for other important bodily functions to take place. When we’re stressed, the adrenal gland secretes the stress hormones cortisol, noradrenaline, and adrenaline which are sent into the blood. These disturb the balance of your gut flora, which in turn leads to a weakening of our immune system and makes us more susceptible to inflammation.

Find out more about stress and gut flora here

 

How does mindfulness work against stress?

Mindfulness is a method that develops our ability to be consciously present here and now. This can be done through active meditation, but also through conscious presence in everyday life – for example when we are walking or eating.

Humans think an average of 60,000 thoughts per day. Most of these thoughts are the same as we thought yesterday, the day before, and every other day. Very few thoughts are focused on the present, where our life actually takes place. Through mindfulness, we slow down the brain’s automatic thoughts and, with a little practice, can choose how much we want to engage with them. In this way, we can observe the thoughts rather than get carried away by them. It helps us unwind and discover how much actual stress we experience.

Meditation is part of mindfulness where we sit or lie down to actively practice being here and now. Research shows that just 10 minutes a day can change the brain’s neural pathways and that our amygdala, the brain’s alarm centre, shrinks after just a few months. We simply become calmer and less stressed. Mindfulness has also been shown to have a good effect on both IBS and IBD. Do your gut health a favour and try mindfulness.

 

Reduce your stress levels with mindfulness

Start by thinking about how much time you have for a moment of daily meditation. Be realistic, it’s better to have short moments daily that actually happen than too high a level of ambition. A good guideline is to start with 5-10 minutes a day and slowly increase over time if it feels good. 10-15 minutes daily is all that is needed to have an effect.

In the next step, you should think about when and where your moment of silence fits into your busy life. Many people prefer to meditate at home first thing in the morning, when the brain has not yet started to kick in. If you have stressful mornings with things other than yourself to take care of, it may be better to find another time. Ask yourself where you have the opportunity to meditate. Maybe at work or on the way there? Meditating on public transport can be a challenge at first but is a fantastic way to make your time more efficient.

 

How to create a sustainable mindfulness routine

When you’ve found your time for meditation, it’s time to think about how you can bring mindfulness into everyday life, in the tasks that you’re already doing. Tips for suitable activities for conscious presence are:

– Brushing teeth

– Cleaning up

– Washing your hands

– Taking a shower

– Eating

– Walking

When we do these things, we usually do them automatically, while thinking about other things. We’re simply not there. When we practice mindfulness in everyday life, we try to experience the situation as it is, with all our senses. Instead of planning tonight’s dinner while you walk, or going over today’s meetings in your head while you shower, be fully present. Ask yourself questions such as; How does the water feel against my skin? What does the soap smell like? How do your feet feel on the ground? What does the food taste, smell, and feel like? What does it look like? Experience the moment with all your senses. This is how you practice mindfulness in everyday life. Start by choosing one or two everyday moments that you will practice daily and feel free to use reminders at the beginning, because it’s easy to forget.

Another great way to practice mindfulness daily is to create a daily gratitude routine. Gratitude is an important part of mindfulness and it helps us see what we have, instead of what we don’t have.

 

Write down how it goes and how you feel

Keeping a journal of how you feel is an effective tool for noticing changes and stress patterns, and is a reminder and motivation to keep going. Before you go to bed, please write down how today’s meditation felt. It’s important to not judge yourself if you feel that things went less well or even if you forgot to do it. Then you practice just noting without evaluating, which is one of the basic principles of mindfulness. Feel free to give a number between 1-10 to symbolise today’s stress level.

Also make use of your journal for your gratitude practice. Write down one thing in life that you’re grateful for every day. Using a physical notebook doesn’t take your thoughts away as easily as screens do. Why not make the writing session itself a moment of conscious presence? Ask yourself questions such as; How does the pen feel in my hand? How do my words look on paper? What feelings are coming up? 

Read more about how you can keep a journal to counteract stress here.

 

Sources

https://www.hjarnfonden.se/stress-vad-ar-det/

https://www.realsimple.com/health/mind-mood/mindfulness-improves-brain-health-neuroplasticity

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/harvard-researchers-study-how-mindfulness-may-change-the-brain-in-de pressed-patients/

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/05/meditation-may-relieve-ibs-and-ibd/

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