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How to Handle Stress from a Mindfulness Expert

April marks Stress Awareness Month, and after the last few years, it’s more important than ever to explore some positive ways to manage the stress in your life. In addition to well-known stress busters like regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and opportunities to connect and laugh more with others, Vinson Hall Retirement Community (VHRC) offers some alternative options to restore calm and serenity to your life.

Maureen Kammerer, VHRC’s resident mindfulness expert, says that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important in every period of life and should not be overlooked. She says that’s why she gives mindfulness classes on campus. Maureen has been practicing and teaching mindfulness at area community centers since 1991— when it first started becoming known in the U.S. At VHRC, Maureen has been offering group sessions since 2020 and instructs people on the simple techniques of mindfulness based on the teachings of Jon Kabat-Zinn from the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Stress Reduction Clinic.

On the second Thursday of every month in the Alford Auditorium in Vinson Hall, Maureen welcomes participants with soft music and begins each session with a meditation. She says her classes include meditation and relaxation techniques.

Your mental health is as important as your physical health — because it’s all connected. Studies suggest that mindfulness may impact our hearts, brains, immune systems and more. Research suggests that mindfulness may even decrease cognitive decline from aging or Alzheimer’s. These positive results extend into psychological well being too by improving mood, increasing positive outlook, and by decreasing anxiety and emotional reactivity. Take time during Stress Awareness Month to explore more mindful ways to manage your stress, you’re guaranteed to enjoy some overall health and wellness benefits.

Try these 3 simple mindfulness techniques to help navigate daily stressors

Mindfulness Meditation: Learn to become more aware of your thoughts with this meditation. This practice involves focusing on something positive — sometimes relating to the season, a special person or a focus word. Bring your attention to the present moment and focus. If your mind starts drifting into other concerns, refocus. It’s that simple.

Total Body Scan: Get in tune and become more sensitive to the needs of your body. Maureen uses this technique to bring awareness to your body and provide progressive muscle relaxation. The body scan is a total body relaxation and can help boost your awareness of the mind-body connection.

Guided Visualization: Maureen ends each of her classes with a visualization meditation and sets the intention to connect and live with more compassion. The level of care and compassion for yourself and others rises — and a compassionate mind soothes your stress response. She says “we can’t have peace in the world without peace in ourselves.”

These mindfulness techniques can give you more “tools” in your “health and wellness toolbox” to manage the physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension caused by stress.

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