Have you felt stressed today? This week? This month? Most likely the answer will be yes.
That is not surprisingTooltip Text because nowadays it is considered normal to be busy and stressed. When you ask someone how are you? Busy is the expected answer. What we are seeing is a stress epidemic and it has far stretching consequences.
Heart disease, adrenal fatigue, anxiety, burn out and depression are just some of the conditions that are linked to stress. These things are not only horrible for the person involved, but also their families, communities and society.
Statistics show that work related mental stress costs Australia an estimates $5.3 billion Au dollars per year. In Canada the costs of stress are estimated between $2.9 and 11 billion CA dollars and in the UK the costs of stress, anxiety and depression are estimated between 7 and 10 billion pounds per year.
One powerful way to activate the green brain, which is the opposite of stress, is by practicing research based mindfulness. Research shows that mindfulness rewires the brain and makes you better able to regulate and manage stress. In other words, Mindfulness makes you better at switching on the green brain and prevents you from ending up in the Red brain (the stress state). Mindfulness techniques use certain ways of paying attention, reshaping thoughts, breathing and posture to activate the green brain. It stops the red brain from being triggered in situations that are not emergencies and when you find yourself stressed mindfulness helps you to recognize this and make your way back to the green.
Studies show that as little as 6 -8 weeks of mindfulness practise is powerful enough to show physical changes in people’s brains on brain scans.
MY MINDFULNESS STORY
If that has not convinced you of the use of mindfulness let me share a personal story with you. I use to ‘live’ in the red brain. I have always been a high achiever, a straight A student, the first one ever to do an internship with a prestigious forensic psychology institute in Amsterdam, the youngest person to complete a postmasters at the University of Amsterdam. Yet I wasn’t happy, I had no peace of mind and no matter what I achieved, to me it was never good enough. In my twenties I burned out.
When I discovered mindfulness I first felt resistant to it, thinking it was a fluffy, non scientific mumbo jumbo. When it became part of my post master education I learned the science behind Mindfulness. I learned is isn’t Buddhism but brain training and that mindfulness makes perfect sense when you know how the brain works, that it makes you more effective, goal orientated and successful without the stress, anxiety and pressure of not feeling good enough. As I began to practice mindfulness, just short moments of it throughout the day, I found moments of peace and clarity. But most transformational of all was that the more I practiced mindfulness the softer my harsh and critical self talk became. That little voice that always reminded me that no matter what I did it wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t good enough. I discovered how I can be kind and forgiving towards myself. How I can back myself up instead of beat myself up.
I now spend most of my time in the green brain or orange brain, with occasional moments of red. When I find myself in the red zone I recognize it and use mindfulness to put myself back on track. And what I once feared, that I without stress I would become unmotivated and unsuccessful hasn’t happened, in fact the opposite has happened. I am more dedicated and successful then I have ever been but this time around I am enjoying the process.
I don’t work hard anymore, I work smart and you can do the same.
Let me leave you with this, for me, bringing this message to you is not just about inspiring you. It is about much more then that, stress impacts your health, your relationship, the relationships you have with your children, your wellbeing and happiness. Anxiety, depression and burn out rates are soring in this country and worldwide and suicide rates are higher then ever. Stress won’t be the only factor to blame for all of this but it plays a powerful role.
And let’s be realistic, life isn’t going to get any less demanding or hectic any time soon. The pressure will continue to build and our children will grow up with way more pressure and stress then we have ever been under. So learning how we can manage stress, how we can cope in a world with ever increasing pressures and demands is not optional, it is essential.
And the best part is that we intuitively know this already, we know we can’t exhaust our bodies and our minds and expect to feel well and do well. That is why we make an effort to eat healthy and exercise. But why do we take better care of our teeth, our hair even our car then our brain? When your brain is your most important asset?
IT IS TIME FOR A CHANGE
It is time for a change. It is time that we apply science and common sense to taking care of our biggest asset, our brain. And making research based mindfulness techniques, that are quick, simple and free, have been proven to reduce stress and strengthen the green brain, making those assessable for as many people as possible is my contribution. What I ask of you is that you help create a cultural shift. That you stops seeing stress as normal and stops viewing ‘being busy’ as good.
If we take this stress epidemic serious and invest in methods that we know are effective, I believe we can make a difference. One green brain at a time.
Help me to change the way people see stress by sharing this blog or video.