By: Tracy L. Skaer, Pharm.D., Professor of Pharmacotherapy
College of Pharmacy, Washington State University

Jon-Kabat-Zinn describes mindfulness as, “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally to the unfolding experience moment by moment.” Mindfulness has been found to reduce stress as well as gradually building inner strength to ensure that future stressful situations have less impact on our physical and emotional well-being.
Mindfulness reduces stress by:

  1. Enhancing awareness of thoughts in order to identify and reduce negative response styles (e.g. pessimism, ruminative thinking)
  2. Reducing emotional reactivity; pausing to think with a “wise mind” to find the best solution.
  3. Creating a “being present” mindset which is associated with relaxation as opposed to “doing” mode requiring action and a stress response.
  4. Improving awareness and sensitivity to the needs of the body and mind.
  5. Increasing awareness of the emotions of others creating enhanced empathy and reduced conflict.
  6. Promoting care and compassion for yourself and others thereby inhibiting the stress response.
  7. Reducing the fear response and threat detection.
  8. Enhancing cognitive function and improving concentration skills on tasks at hand.
  9. Changing attitudes about stressors and promoting positive thinking towards stress.

So, let go of your stress. STOP and be mindful for just a moment:

  • Stop what you are doing and close your eyes.
  • Take a few breaths and bring your awareness to each inhalation and exhalation.
  • Observe how your body is feeling and become aware of your thoughts and feelings.
  • Perceive sounds you hear in the room; listening to them come and do before ending the exercise.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ~ Rumi

Dr. Tracy L. Skaer will be a panelist at #StressAndHealthyU at WSU Spokane January 12th from 12:00-1:00pm in SAC 20. Students, faculty, and staff from the university district are encouraged to attend!