TYLER (KYTX) - Many of us are burning the candle at both ends with responsibilities at work, commitments to our family and friends, not to mention the other projects we've taken on in life. Life can get stressful. When that stress gets out of control, research shows it can wreak havoc on our bodies putting us at greater risk for depression, heart disease and other health issues. There is now a program in East Texas helping people reduce that stress to help mental health and fitness.
It's called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Basically that means being aware of your thoughts, physical sensations and surroundings. Sounds easy enough, but it requires quite a bit of instruction and daily practice. It changed one East Texas woman's life.
Brandy Jones is a wife, mother and business owner with so many obligations, so much stress. "Trying to juggle my son, his schedule, work schedule. I was just overwhelmed. My father in law was in hospice," says Brandy Jones. Brandy found the stress and worry depleting her body. She was drained and tired.
"I am overly a people pleaser. The problem is I am pleasing too many people and leaving myself behind and not giving myself enough space to be more relaxed and not give all my energy away," says Brandy.
Scott Martin's East Texas Stress Reduction clinic caught her eye.
"The basis is becoming present so we are not lost in the story. We are not lost in the future. We are not lost in the past. This is the basis of most anxiety and depression." It's an 8 week course designed to teach us how to integrate mindfulness into our everyday lives.
"This word, mindfulness, paying attention on purpose without judgment with love, kindness and tolerance toward ourselves," says Martin. The practice was developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is internationally known for bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. "He began in 1979 with a program that he first went to pain doctors he had some different questions for them... what about the people who aren't getting any better? Why don't you send them over to me? This is kind of the basis for the program. He was a scientist. He began mapping this activity. He began to get significant results of people's pain getting better," Scott explained.
Their stress was also reduced.
Scott says the class accomplishes that by introducing you to meditation, body awareness, yoga, and mindful movement. "First we started with a body scan. That's getting really comfortable and lying and doing this every day for 45 minutes, going through different parts of your body, breathing, which is really difficult to do. I want to think I have to the dishes. I have this appointment that I forgot to right it down. It is very hard to calm your mind and be in the moment," says Brandy.
Scott explains, "The movement is a second part where we are practicing life, but doing it mindfully in motion paying attention to what's going on in our thoughts, emotions and sensations of the body. We can go to mindful smelling, tasting, then we move into mindful breathing.
Students like Brandy then apply the mindfulness techniques to reduce stress and ultimately improve their health. "Learning how to meditate and being exposed to that is such a new thing, but it really did help me learn how to breathe, give myself some space, not go into the worry mode and try to get some control.
Brandy says this has been an eye-opening experience. "I feel now I can do the things I like to do, whether it's reading magazines getting on Pinterest, I love what I do, interior design and I want to continue with it. I'll start getting ideas. I started sketching and journaling."
Now Brandy plans to work more on her health, incorporate mindful eating and more quality time with the people she loves. Brandy's getting better at letting go of her stress, but she admits it's a baby-step process, but one that has decades of research behind it reporting dramatic decreases in pain levels, anxiety and depression. It has shown increases in energy, the ability to relax and cope with pain. .
One of the questions people ask is if there is a specific religious aspect to mindfulness meditation that will conflict with their own. It's actually designed to be neutral and approachable for everyone. If you'd like more information from the East Texas Stress Reduction Clinic, click here.