National Stress Awareness Day

Mindfulness for Stress

When we are stressed, we are often judging ourselves and others, worrying about the past, or rehearsing the future, what meditators call the ‘monkey brain’. We are anything but present! Research shows that mindfulness is an effective technique to bust out of stress and tame the monkey brain.

Stress is part of our natural fight or flight response. Its impact is not only psychological but physical too, as it engages the part of our nervous system that heightens our senses and makes us alert, releasing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol into the body. While occasional short bursts of stress can make us perform better, if stress continues over long periods it can affect our general health and sense of wellbeing. Scientists have found chronic stress is linked to high blood pressure, anxiety and depression, headaches, obesity and heart disease.

Mindfulness is a simple technique that helps to:

  • relax the body
  • calm the brain, and
  • rebalance the nervous system

By bringing our awareness into the present moment we break the cycle of negative thoughts and shift the body back into balance. Research suggests that over time daily mindful meditation can have benefits for immune and brain function, and reduce anxiety and depression.

Here is a simple mindfulness technique you can use anywhere to tame the monkey brain.

When you notice yourself getting stressed, take a breath (expanding your stomach as you do so) and very slowly release the breath (try to make the outbreath longer than the in breath). Now just check in with your body, noticing any areas of tension or tightening. You don’t need to do anything else. If you want to continue then scan your body in more detail, starting with your toes and working your way up, just noticing what sensations you find there, without judging.

Sometimes stress and anxiety are harder to shift and a course of therapy can help to move you out of the stress paradigm and promote resilience. I am a qualified Cognitive Hypnotherapist offering sessions for stress, anxiety and depression at the WOW clinic in Westbourne (nr Emsworth), Nutrivital in Petersfield and the Cowdray Hall Therapy Rooms near Midhurst. If you would like to see how therapy can help you call me for a no obligation chat on 07949 736 553. You can also try out one of my audio downloads for mindful walking, relaxation and finding contentment available at

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