Mindfulness, stress & happiness

Mindfulness, stress & happiness

The fifth of the 7 Pillars of Wellness is mindfulness, to build mental resilience. Mental resilience is a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her potential, can cope with the everyday stresses of life, work productively, and contribute to her or his community. However, achieving this can be easier said than done and requires constant effort and commitment every day. We generally recommend our clients to establish habits of mindfulness like the following:

  • Keep a gratitude journal and try to make a few entries every day before you go to sleep. It boosts mood and helps you feel more connected to those around you.
  • Try to perform one random act of kindness each day. It will make you happier and healthier.
  • Talk to people! Make time to be social and build relationships with others.
  • Try meditation. It will benefit your focus, brain health, emotion regulation, and immune system.
  • Exercise. It will lift your mood, reduce anxiety and keep your brain healthy, so your performance and creativity are high.
  • Practice becoming immersed in a single task, otherwise known as flow. Some easy ways to start are with colouring books or mindful sun salutations.
  • Practice healthy device habits. Put away your phone at mealtime, turn email notifications off when you leave work, turn off devices 90 minutes before bed, spend some time without your device on the weekends.
  • Set aside time every day to focus on yourself and don’t feel guilty about it.
  • Invest in experiences rather than material objects or temporal pleasures such as food & alcohol.

Mindfulness, Positive & Negative Stress

Stress has a vital function for focus, attention, and energy when at the right level. However, under chronic stress (which is what most of us experience in this current era), our brain and body suffer tremendously. Stress is often said to be the cause of nearly 70% of doctor’s visits and 85% of serious illnesses. This cumulative stress increases the risk of stress-related disorders and can cause lasting changes in the body even when the stress is removed or has ended.

The First Victim of Stress is the Mind

The knock-on effect may impact your emotions (reduced attention and awareness), your relationships, mental flexibility, reasoning, openness, creativity and problem-solving ability.

Negative impacts of high stress

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgement
  • Negative thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Constant worrying

Emotional Symptoms

  • Moodiness
  • Irritability
  • Agitation and inability to relax
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • A sense of loneliness and isolation
  • Depression or general unhappiness

Behavioural Symptoms

  • Irregular eating
  • Irregular sleeping
  • Isolating oneself from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes or drugs

Physical Symptoms

  • Aches and pains
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Chest pain or rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds/ flu

The Antidote: HAPPINESS

  • Happiness combats stress and its negative consequences.
  • Happiness improves heart health.
  • Happy people are less susceptible to illness.
  • Happiness combats pain, and aches.
  • Happiness combats disease and disability.
  • Happy people earn more money, are more productive at work and are more satisfied with their jobs.
  • Happy people live longer.

Happy individuals are more creative, helpful, charitable, self-confident, have better self-control, and show greater coping abilities.  Intentional effort can increase 40% of our happiness (the other 60% is fixed and controlled by genetics and life circumstances).

Use these Peak Health Tips is to help you practice happiness-inducing activities each day.




Recommended Mindfulness Reading

The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD

Altered Traits, Daniel Coleman, PhD & Richard J. Davidson, PhD

Neuroscience for LeadershipTara Swart, MD

The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor

The Art of the Good Life: 52 Surprising Shortcuts to Happiness, Wealth and SuccessRolf Dobell