Everyone feels stressed sometimes – and we all know prioritizing fitness, nutrition and adequate sleep helps to manage stress, but in honor of National Stress Awareness Month, I wanted to share three specific mindfulness practices you might not have thought of that I use to keep myself present, less stressed, and my self-care as a priority.
1) Stay present in stressful situations.
When I have a stressful situation, meeting, or outcome I stop and count for 10 seconds – slow deep breathing allows me to take a moment before I react to the situation whether it’s over email, text or face-to-face. During this process, I really take the time to first count to 10 then I will take a few moments to ask myself why the situation is triggering me or bothering me so much. This allows me to identify the emotion or need behind my feelings and I wait to respond to the email or person face-to-face until I have found the answer.
When I go to bed at night, if I have not come up with an answer I will think about the situation before I go to bed and trust that my intuition and or unconsciousness will help me find an answer by the morning. I find this to be a very safe way to tap into my unconsciousness and intuition. Additionally, it allows me to focus and reflect on why what emotions come up for me and why they are being triggered or surfacing. It’s my time to deescalate the energy and emotion behind the situation or conflict. It takes me out of reactive fight or flight mode so that I can access my frontal lobe and executive functioning in order to provide a more mindful and less reactive response.
2) Stay focused on your reaction, not the outcome.
I have learned throughout my 15 years in the emergency department working with patients, and as a parent dealing with children and other family members as well as president of a nonprofit organization running and managing events, that life happens no matter what and it’s not what happens to us, it’s about how you react to the situation.
Your reaction to any situation is what defines your character. As a type A, controlling personality type, I have learned to let go of the outcome and to trust and rely on the Universe or the religion and high power that you believe in. It causes me stress and anxiety to ruminate or fixate on the what if’s, what could have been or the outcomes of the situation. I have learned to let go of the things that I cannot control and that I can only control my responses and my behavior.
3) Prioritize self-care and a purpose-driven life.
I have also learned it’s important to not over schedule yourself. To do this, I schedule time in my calendar for my self-care, otherwise it does not become a priority. I have had to learn to not feel guilty about making myself and my well-being a priority. I have learned that I am no good to my patients, children, spouse, or family if I am not coming from a place of fulfillment and happiness. This is different for everyone, and we all need to identify with work or philanthropy that provides meaning and delivers a service to something higher than ourselves.
Dr. Mara Windsor is an emergency physician, philanthropist and advocate for wellness. As former Clinical Site Director and Education Director who now serves as Chief Wellness Officer for her physician group at HonorHealth John C. Lincoln Hospitals she serves as a leader in the medical industry. She also serves as Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix and Clinical Assistant Professor at Midwestern University AZCOM. Seven years ago, she founded L.I.F.E. (Living in Fulfilled Enlightenment), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the physical, emotional and spiritual wellness of professionals. Throughout the pandemic, the nonprofit has given support to frontline workers, provided virtual wellness crisis support and hosted health-focused events and lectures to help boost the wellbeing of the community.