Category Archives: stress reduction

Five Good Minutes At Work: Mindfulness Strategies

Dr. Jeff Brantley

Dr. Jeff Brantley, founder and director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program at Duke Integrative Medicine, reads from his book, “Five Good Minutes At Work,” during a DukeWell seminar. “The five good minutes concept is simple,” Brantley writes in the book. “Take the time, for just five minutes to be present mindfully.”

1. Focus on a calming object. When negative thoughts fill the mind, ground yourself by looking at an object that invokes calmness, such as a plant or a personal photo. Then focus your attention on your breath for several minutes. When your attention wanders toward the negative thoughts, focus it gently again on your breath and the object.
2. Train your attention. Choose a rote task like washing your hands and train yourself to pay attention to the sensations of the moment each time you do it. “This is a way of practicing focusing our attention,” Brantley said. “Focusing on physical sensations brings the mind back to the present.”
3. Take a power break. In his book, Brantley suggests taking five minutes for a silent meditation retreat away from all electronics. “Take notice of the simple vibrancy of your immediate surroundings,” he writes. Sitting quietly at your workplace, focus on your senses; listen to passing noises, enjoy patches of color and notice the warmth of your hands in your lap. Pay attention to the world around you without feeling the need to respond.
4. Take a hike. “Just before lunch, give yourself permission to get outside,” Brantley writes in his book. “Take five minutes to be mindful of your natural surroundings. When it comes time to return, with every step you take toward your job site, become increasingly aware of the calming power of being outside.”  For more, click here. 

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To Feel Less Stressed, Try MBSR

MBSRIt only takes a few weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction training to notice an improvement, according to a new study.  The findings support an existing body research showing that mindfulness leads to less perceived stress.

Find an MBSR program near you via the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness

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Citation: Baer, R. A., Carmody, J. and Hunsinger, M. (2012), Weekly Change in Mindfulness and Perceived Stress in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program. J. Clin. Psychol.. doi: 10.1002/jclp.21865



Biofeedback is Back!

biofeedback device

I’m excited to see more coverage of biofeedback, which can help you interpret your body’s physical responses to stress (heart rate) usually with a device, such as a fingertip sensor, that measures the changes in temperature skin.

The tools discussed in this NYT Well blog are a sort of high-tech approach akin to relaxation techniques such as deep breathing. Computerized biofeedback gadgets have been shown to help teach relaxation and stress management exercises.  They’re an important part of a holistic approach that may be helpful to people dealing with IBS, migraines and numerous other medical conditions that are influenced by stress levels.  The source in this NYT Well blog story notes that kids in particular seem to respond well to this drug-free way to help treat anxiety and stress.

The Doctor’s Remedy: Biofeedback for Stress      

What the Doctor Says: Biofeedback devices typically weigh only a couple of ounces and look something like an iPod. Pressing your thumb to sensors on the devices allows them to take your pulse and measure changes in your heart rate. The devices then use audible cues, flashing lights and graphics to guide you to breathe in a way that has a calming effect.  Dr. Rosen prefers using the emWave brand of biofeedback devices, which he says helps his nervous patients relax before operations….MORE

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