The most well-known understanding of mindfulness is that practicing it leads to a state of calm. Though this is true, mindfulness also builds up other important aspects of your mind. For example, it increases stress resilience, which is the ability to not avoid stress, but to adapt to it and use it to produce positive outcomes. Working on becoming more mindful of our emotions, body, and environment leads to us understanding our reactions to certain situations and being able to get past them to reach our goals, while growing more stress resilience.
Stress resilience has been studied in reference to sports. Athletes are learning that their bodies can do more when they are focused and positive about an outcome. There is research now suggesting that it’s not your body that leads to you stopping a workout or competition, but your mind. If you train your mind to think beyond your body’s exhaustion and concentrate on the positive outcome, then you can do the next rep or finish the last mile.
So how does mindfulness help you build stress resilience? When you practice mindfulness, you allow your mind to concentrate on the present. In terms of sports, this helps you to build the focus needed to push your body to its full potential. The concentration you build through mindfulness also helps you hone in on positive thoughts, which drive you to complete or exceed your goals.
Mindfulness also aids you in understanding your body and how you train. You’ll start to notice if you lose your form on your first set or your last set. Or how long it takes you to get into a steady flow when you do cardio. This knowledge about your body helps when addressing problems in your training or feeling the last bit of energy burning away.
Outside of sports, mindfulness helps strengthen stress resilience in that it allows people who are stressed to bounce back quicker from their stressed state. Through brain imaging, scientific data has shown that the brains of people who practice mindfulness return to a stress free state quicker than those of people who do not practice mindfulness (Richard Davidson and Bruce McEwen, Social influences on neuroplasticity: Stress and intervention to promote well-being). If you are confronted with a stressful event, your mindfulness training gives you the tools needed to deal with the stress and come back to a calmer state.
To have stress resilience means you can combat against negative thoughts, push forward to reach your goals, and bounce back quicker from stress. Mindfulness helps with this since it allows us to focus but also broaden the scope of ourselves to understand our emotional and physical being.
Visit the Boost section of the Spire app to find mindfulness exercises!
Sources and Further Reading:
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2011/04/resilience-for-the-rest-of-us
Nour Foundation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALjF1yb-VLw
Richard Davidson and Bruce McEwen: Social influences on neuroplasticity: Stress and intervention to promote well-being