Adults come to mindfulness for many reasons. One of the more common motivations for learning mindfulness is the stated need for stress reduction strategies. Common symptoms of stress stated by adults are:
- Anxiety (heart palpitations, breathing difficulty, forgetfulness, feeling unsettled)
- Memory trouble (forgetfulness, poor tracking, difficulty with recall)
- Sleeping problems (trouble falling asleep or waking during sleep)
- Emotions management (depression, anger, chronic dissatisfaction, numb-feeling, acute sensitivity)
- Addiction and harmful behaviors (compulsive eating, misuse/overuse of alcohol, codependent relationships)
- Obsessive and repetitive thoughts
- Physical discomfort and pain
The Nature of Stress
That which is in motion, stays in motion.
~Law of physics
Stress feeds on stress. Stress feels like a ball in motion that you know is careening off a cliff but to stop the momentum can feel like a challenge. It’s very common to hear adults say, in the first few minutes of a mindfulness practice: “But my mind doesn’t want to calm down.” The good news is that from the perspective of mindfulness to observe and acknowledge the mind as busy is the first step in shifting the stress response. The nature of the mind is to think, analyze, judge, etc. Once we witness the busy mind, we start to get space from our thoughts and see the possibility of reacting differently to life.
Is stress reduction a luxury?
Acknowledging stress is perhaps easy. However, making stress reduction a priority is the challenge. Even making time for practice or signing up for a mindfulness course can feel like a guilty luxury due to time away from family members and other adult responsibilities. However, when stress is not addressed and not given its proper priority, adults report feeling burnt out, unable to emotionally connect with others, resentment with responsibilities, and chronic unhappiness.
To reverse the habitual stress response, support is helpful. Being part of a group, using an app or listening to an audio recording can help create the space to establish new strategies to deal with stress.
Mindfulness practice supports adults in improving their capacities to deal with stress and life responsibilities by:
- Gaining the ability to shift attention throughout the day
- Conscious and focused concentration
- Noticing the balance between external and internal