Arboretum News

Soothe Stress with Mindfulness Techniques

Take a deep breath and evaluate your level of stress before it starts to affect your body, mood and behavior.

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Even a short 20 minute walk in nature can help relieve stress. Photo taken in early November in the Spring Peeper Meadow by Jason Boudreau-Landis.

By Jean Larson, manager of the Nature-Based Therapeutic Services Program at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Let’s face it – there has been a lot of stress in 2020. With new responsibilities and roles, working from home, protocols to follow and virtual meetings, we have all had to adapt to a new way of navigating the world. Now with the holiday season there is a whole other level of stress!

Some of us thrive in change, while others are just managing to hold on.  Even if you do enjoy the “new normal,” not every day is a great one and you may be struggling to cope and loss of self-care time. It’s time to stop – take a deep breath and evaluate your level of stress before it starts to affect your body, mood and behavior.  

The first step to managing stress is to understand the triggers to stress and making the necessary changes to modify new ways of responding.  The Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing at the University of Minnesota has a mindfulness program that can help you understand how focusing your attention has been scientifically proven useful in building resilience in times of stress.  Here are three ways to build mindfulness into your daily self-care:

  1.  Learning mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques are an evidence-informed way to help you increase attention to the task, improve memory, and motivation.  Daily practice includes such things as deep breathing, stretching and awareness exercises.
  2. Increase your awareness of the present moment with meditation.  Regular meditation practice has been shown to alter the brain for good – helping you stay more positive and focused as you develop gentle acceptance of yourself and others.
  3. In the world designed to distract, the practice of mindful movement – such as a walk in nature – is a perfect antidote to stress and distracted thinking.  Taking just 20 minutes each day outside to focus your mind on the natural world allows your body, mind and spirit a chance to restore, shed stress and embrace whatever next challenge may come your way.

No matter how tightly scheduled you may be, mindfully setting aside time for structured self-care is an important aspect to your overall health and wellbeing.  Don’t ignore it.  Do it.

Find more information about the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing Mindfulness programs.

The Mayo Clinic also has helpful information on topic of stress relief.

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