By Clara Wicoff
Southwind Extension District
April is Stress Awareness Month! Did you know that stress can affect your physical health? According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, chronic stress can lead to a risk of health problems such as digestive issues, elevated blood pressure, headaches, insomnia, and more.
So, what can you do to combat stress throughout the rest of April and beyond? One practice you can consider adopting is mindfulness. What exactly is this? Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn defines the term as “awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a sustained and particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
While this should not be considered a “cure-all,” research suggests that practicing mindfulness can reduce chronic stress. Consider starting simply by committing to an uninterrupted time each day to focus on your breathing and practice a mindful meditation. This is a busy time of year for many people, so know that you can start by doing this for as little as five minutes (although you may benefit from increasing the time to 20 minutes or longer). Once you’ve committed to this time, find a quiet place away from technology. Find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down. Then, focus on your breathing and let negative thoughts float away like clouds. There are resources online which can help lead you through a guided mindful meditation if desired.
For more information, please contact me at [email protected] or 620-365-2242. If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988 or chatting online at 988lifeline.org.
Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service
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