Life of Wellness Institute - Mind full or Mindful Stress

Stress—A Problem Worth Solving

It comes as no surprise that every day someone close to us says—or we, ourselves say—“I’m stressed.” According to Statistics Canada, 23% of people over the age of 15 reports that most days are “quite a bit” or “extremely” full of stress. This number rises to 30 percent among the 35 to 54 age group (Statistics Canada, 2015). Women consistently report 2-3% higher than men (Statistics Canada, 2014).

“Stress carries several negative health consequences, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, as well as immune and circulatory complications.” (Heart and Stroke Foundation). “Exposure to stress can also contribute to behaviors such as smoking, over-consumption of alcohol, and less-healthy eating habits.” (Canada, 2001).

“Stress was related to psychological distress and a number of health problems in the short-term, and even more importantly, in the long-term. High stress in 1994/95 was associated with an increase in psychological distress. By 2000/01, add in high odds of developing a number of chronic conditions: arthritis/rheumatism, back problems, chronic bronchitis/emphysema, and stomach/intestinal ulcers for both sexes. Additionally, heart disease for men, and asthma and migraine for women. These relationships suggest that, at least in some cases, stress is a precursor of poor health. And of the various sources of stress, chronic strains seemed to be the most potent. A stressful event in the preceding year had a less consistent effect on an individual’s chances of eventually getting sick than did prolonged anxieties and frustrations.


What is Stress and how does it affect us?

We all talk about stress, but we are not always clear about what it is and how it affects us. This is because stress comes from both the good and the bad things that happen to us. If we did not feel any stress, we would not be alive! Stress becomes a problem when we are not sure how to handle an event or a situation. Then worry sets in, and we feel “stressed.”

Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Cortisol has been shown to damage and kills cells in the hippocampus (the brain area responsible for your episodic memory). And there is robust evidence that chronic stress causes premature brain aging. Without cortisol you would die – but too much of it is not a good thing.

What is causing our stress?

Work is the leading cause of stress among our population (Statistics Canada, 2015), followed (albeit far behind) by finances. But the addition of new modern concerns — like terrorism and the state of the environment — are adding to the load (Hamilton, 2016). One in four Canadians cites stress as the reason for leaving their job (Dubé, 2017), while 73 percent of all working adults aged 20 to 64 report at least some level of stress (Statistics Canada, 2015).

Now, add in the heavy reliance on modern technology and its increasing effects on stress and sleep (David Volpi, 2012). We are in a perfect storm leading to illness, mental health issues, and chronic health concerns. 

How Mindfulness Based Therapy works

Today, there is a growing interest, and research corroborates the benefits of mindfulness training. The new breakthroughs in neuroscience show that by practicing mindfulness, the brain can be shaped for greater happiness, love, wisdom and greater emotional balance in turbulent times, as well as healthier relationships, more effective actions, and greater peace of mind.

How much time do you spend remembering things that have happened in the past or thinking about things that are going to happen in the future? Versus what is happening now – the present moment? When we dwell on a situation there is a reaction in our nervous system that then hinders our ability to see clearly and see all available options. 

Mindfulness-based therapy focuses on seeing things clearly for what happened and allows us to see the story and the meaning we have added to the story. This creates a space, a pause, in which you can look peacefully and respond considerately to situations, rather than react. Creative possibilities open up; new ways of being with life’s challenges can present themselves.

“Mindfulness is the awareness that arises when paying attention to the present moment, with non-judgment.”

What you can expect

Our Mindfulness based coaching sessions are designed from the principles of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction technique created by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979.

The foundations of mindfulness practice cover all areas of life experience, including mindfulness of the body, thoughts, and emotions. Mindfulness can be extended into communication and interpersonal interactions through exercises and compassion meditations, facilitating improved relationships in all environments.

You can choose from one on one sessions or a group of 5 or more in a workshop. We can be in person, by phone, or with a video call. You don’t need any fancy equipment or new outfits. You only need a couple of small pillows, a blanket or yoga mat, and water.

"The present is the only time that any of us have to be alive – to know anything – to perceive – to learn – to act – to change – to heal"