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How to Practice Mindfulness, Reduce Stress, and Be More Present

September 25, 2017

The practice of mindfulness is becoming a more mainstream topic these days, leaving many to wonder exactly what it is.

 

 

 

So, What is Mindfulness?

 

"Mindfulness is the root of awareness and choice; it’s a catalyst for conscious, inspired living, and your guide on a journey of wellness."

- Organic India

 

That sounds simple, right? From a logical standpoint, yes. From a practical one, not so much. Life and the world around us can offer constant chaos. The ability to take a step back and become aware of how mental state affects our physical state is the key to stress reduction and wellness.

 

Stressful situations happen every so often. It's the chronic stress that can become dangerous and actually cause long-term health problems. Trust me, I am very familiar with stress and am on a constant journey and pursuit of practicing mindfulness.

 

 

What happens when stress becomes chronic?

 

When the adrenal glands pump out abnormally large amounts of the stress hormone cortisol overtime, your blood pressure and blood sugar go up while your immune system response goes down, making your body more susceptible to infections and disease. Stress leads to the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation leads to disease.

 

 Diseases Strongly Linked To Stress:

Angina

Asthma

Autoimmune Disease

Cancer

Cardiovascular Disease

Common Cold

Depression

Diabetes (Type 2)

Headaches

Hypertension

Immune Suppression

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Menstrual Irregularities

Premenstrual Tension Syndrome

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcers

 

 

 

How Does One Practice Mindfulness?

Start small and simple. Think yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, a walk in the park, cooking a nutritious meal, being a conscious consumer, or even just spending time with your loved ones -- being present in the moment. One step in the right direction is beginning each day mindfully and with intention. In order to get to a place of mindful living, you have to alleviate and adapt to stress. There are simple steps and routines not only reduce and adapt to stress, but to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

 

The benefits of mindfulness

A healthier relationship with food, less stress, more connection to other people and the world around you, and increasing the brain's neuroplasticity. Mindfulness is the foundation of emotional intelligence, giving you greater ability to perceive your thoughts and feelings, which you can then harness to deal with high level problem solving and other complicated tasks and relationships. In short, your state of mind and your state of well-being are entirely connected, all the time.

 

 

 

Food as medicine

I am currently studying holistic nutrition and herbalism, and there are so many nutritious foods that not only maintain your physical health, but also how you feel. You are what you eat. There are certain foods you can eat that are packed with stress-fighting compounds.

 

OMEGA-3 Fatty acids may help to ward off anxiety. A University of Ohio study found that people who received regular doses of omega-3s had a 20 percent reduction in anxiety than those who never ate salmon or got omega-3s from other sources. Sources of Omega-3s include: Salmon and salmon fish oil, cod liver oil, mackerel, chia seeds, flaxseeds,  hemp seeds, natto, walnuts, herring, white fish, sardines, egg yolks, tuna, and anchovies. 

 

Kale is high in fiber and potassium which aids in digestion and helps to fight stress. Kale also happens to be a great source of antioxidant-rich carotenoids. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people whose blood contained high levels of carotenoids were significantly more optimistic than those with low levels.

 

Other foods high in fiber and potassium include: bananas, avocados, acorn squash, spinach, sweet potatoes. 

 

Zinc Low levels of zinc have been linked to depression and anxiety. Good sources of zinc include: Cashews, lamb, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, cocoa powder, mushrooms, spinach, chicken, kefir or yogurt, and grass-fed beef.

 

Chocolate increases endorphins and elevates your mood. People who regularly consume chocolate tend to have lower levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol. Check out the attached Organic India Guide for a tasty Chocolate-Coconut Protein Bar recipe! 

 

 

Finding balance with herbs

 

I have had the opportunity to learn about so many amazing herbs in my current studies. There are different types of herbs for basically any type of issue. Adaptogenic herbs have been used in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese herbal medicines for thousands of years to promote and maintain wellness. Adaptogenic herbs support the body in its attempts to adapt to environmental, physical and emotional stressors, support normal functions and restore balance. My favorite adaptogen is ashwagandha. 

 

Eleuthero Also called Siberian ginseng, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) appears to support healthy immune response and a healthy inflammatory response (inflammation can exacerbate aches and pains, not to mention is linked to long-term illness). Some research suggests that eleuthero can improve athletic performance, as well as enhance feelings of well-being and overall quality of life in seniors. Dose: 200 mg daily.

 

Rhodiola Originally investigated by Russian scientists more than 50 years ago, rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) is widely regarded as one of the best adaptogenic herbs. In a recent four-week Swedish study of 60 people, researchers reported that rhodiola supplements reduced burn-out fatigue and improved general mental performance, particularly concentration. Other studies confirm rhodiola’s stress-reducing effects, and a 2014 study published in The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine noted that the herb also relieved symptoms of severe depression— working as well as a leading drug but with few side effects. Dose: 500–1,000 mg daily.

 

Mushrooms Maitake, shiitake and reishi, the three most popular adaptogenic mushrooms, are all nutritionally rich and enjoy a long-standing reputation in Traditional Chinese Medicine as energy enhancers. Eat fresh maitake and shiitake as you would any mushrooms (they’re great in stir-fries), or take any of the three in supplement form. Dose: Follow label directions.

 

Ashwagandha A significant part of traditional Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) can help ward off fatigue in people suffering from chronic stress and serious diseases, according to research. For day-to-day use, the herb can help people feel more energized and rejuvenated, plus support healthy cognition. We love ORGANIC INDIA’s Ashwagandha Capsules because they’re made with highquality, certified organic and non-GMO whole herb ingredients— powerfully relieving stress and promoting vitality. Dose: 800 mg daily.

 

Gotu Kola Native to Sri Lanka and South Africa, Gotu Kola has been used for centuries as a tonic for overall brain and nervous system support. Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) is a powerful adoptogen and offers support for the nervous system, a calm mind and sound sleep. Gotu Kola has long been prized by students and yogis for its calming support of the nervous system.

 

Licorice root This herb (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is de rigueur if you have true adrenal exhaustion, characterized by chronic fatigue, low blood pressure and dizziness when standing. The body needs some cortisol to buffer occasional or mild stress. Though commonly misunderstood, adrenal exhaustion means your body has lost its ability to produce even normal amounts of cortisol; people with this condition typically down large amounts of caffeine to make it through the day. Licorice root works by inhibiting the body’s breakdown of cortisol, so normal reserves can be replenished. Use a nondeglycyrrhizinated (nonDGL) licorice root tincture before bed. Do not use if pregnant. Dose: Follow label directions.

 

Tulsi Revered in India as “The Queen of Herbs,” Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, has traditionally been used to support immunity, stress response and the body’s natural detoxification process. Tulsi also uplifts mood, digestion and respiratory function. Modern research has classified Tulsi as an adaptogenic herb. There are many ways to get your daily dose of Tulsi—as a warming tea, iced tea, with coconut water or as a fruit infusion.

 

Organic India has some of the highest quality organic supplements and teas on the market. One of my absolute favorite teas is their Tulsi Sweet Rose tea. It is calming, uplifting, and supports the natural detoxification process. I also find that it helps to keep my skin clear and glowing. I also love their Tulsi Peppermint, Tusli Moringa, Tulsi Masala Chai, Tulsi Ginger, Tulsi Raspberry Peach, and Tulsi Turmeric Ginger. I've been drinking these for years :). Their organic ashwagandha is also some of the best! 

 

 

 

 10 Ways To Start Your Day Mindfully

 

 

1. Drink a glass of water

2. List reasons you're grateful

3. Hum a happy tune

4. Exercise, meditate or practice yoga

5. Seek out sunlight

6. Read a positive quote

7. Eat breakfast

8. Wiggle and stretch

9. Take a multi-vitamin

10. Give a hug

 

 

Additional Tips for Mindful Living

 

Waste less Food waste is a real problem. Being aware of what we purchase and consume can help combat the food waste epidemic. Utilizing vegetable scraps to make stocks is just one example of how to live mindfully and waste less.

 

Be a conscious Consumer Supporting brands that have mindful practices can help you to become more mindful yourself. Typically, B Corporation businesses align with this. This includes supporting local farms and sustainable agriculture, reducing food waste, utilizing clean energy, and being aware of how what we do effects the environment around us. 

 

FOCUS ON The GOOD Try to focus on the positive side of things. You will start to see a shift in your mood when you choose to take the high road. Don't let the small things get under your skin.

 

 

Life is ever evolving. It is so easy to get caught up in the daily hustle and bustle. The ultimate goal of being mindful is to slow down and enjoy the moment. I try my best to start and end my day with a cup of tea. I look forward to this time every day to sit and inhale the warmth coming from my mug. I also try and wind down at the end of my night with relaxing yoga stretches and poses, such as putting my legs up against the wall. I do breathing exercises, listen to calming music, and try to put the ever moving highway I'd like to call my mind on pause, at least for a moment. 

 

I try my best to be mindful of what I put in and on my body, and stop myself when I can feel the stress coming on. I am constantly learning and adapting, and that is what is so great about life. You can always learn something new and grow from all of your experiences, good and bad. Don't dwell on your imperfections. Everyone has them! Don't stress about eating that donut, treat yourself every so often. Spend time with your family, cook that meal you've been meaning to try, plant a garden, go to the museum exhibit, or say no if you please.

 

Stop, breathe, reflect, grow, and embrace who you are. 

 

 

 

Much of this information was sourced and copied from the Stress Less Live More guide with permission from the New Hope Blogger Co-Op. Download the full e-guide here from Delicious Living Magazine and Organic India.

 

 

Other Sources

 

[1 ]6, M., & India, 2. O.[eGuide] stress less live more. Retrieved from http://deliciousliving.com/health/eguide-stress-less-live-more

[2] Axe, J. (a). 15 omega-3 foods your body needs now. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/omega-3-foods/

[3] Axe, J. (b). 20 ultimate high fiber foods. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/high-fiber-foods/

[4] Axe, J. (c). Top 10 potassium-rich foods & potassium benefits. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/top-10-potassium-rich-foods/

[5] Carnegie Mellon University.How stress influences disease: Study reveals inflammation as the culprit. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402162546.htm

[6] Cohen, S., Janicki-Deverts, D., Doyle, W. J., Miller, G. E., Frank, E., Rabin, B. & Turner, R. (2012). Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. Retrieved from http://repository.cmu.edu/psychology/641

[7] Murray, M.T. & J. Pizzorno (2012).Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine(3rd ed.). New York, NY: Atria Paperback.

 

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