In today’s world, there are many words that can be used to define our everyday experiences, but stress is many times the one we employ. We all know that there’s fierce competition from proving that we are good at our jobs, to handling everything around a household, and we seem to never get a moment of peace.
Some of us have pets around, either because they want to have a soothing presence and companionship, or because there are kids in the family and it’s important to teach them early on what responsibility is. No matter the reason, pets are a great way to deal with stressful situations, as their mere presence can make you feel better.
Therefore, if you are looking to get a new companion for your chinchilla, for example, and keep more than one pet in your home, then you are not mistaken in this approach, provided that you have the time to take care of them. With this being said, it’s also very important to take a closer look at the effects stress has and think about mindfulness as well, as exotic as it might sound.
A few words about stress
Some studies suggest that we are today more stressed than ever before. This is a trend that can be seen among children and teenagers as well. While parents have busy lives filled with work-related stress, children have access to an entire online world that can bring both advantages and disadvantages.
We have unprecedented access to information, which is something that shapes our very understanding of the world, as well as political choices and shopping habits. However, in the case of children, this can also mean being subject to unrealistic expectations in terms of how one should look or bullying.
The word “stress” was first coined in 1930 when the Canadian-Hungarian physician János Hugo Bruno "Hans" Selye used it to describe the relationship between placing physical stress on an actual material and the subsequent strain. Today, when we talk about stress, we are assessing the mental strain we place upon ourselves all the time.
Research and psychological studies have revealed something that we all know but we probably weren’t aware of it, namely that our mind wanders all the time. It’s a constant flow of thoughts that we process and that can either review the past or start planning for the future. This in itself can be a stressful process, given that the past cannot be changed and the future remains unknown.
Furthermore, when we think about the future, we tend to use past experiences in order to determine it, but the truth is that we can never be fully sure about what it is that it’s going to happen. Things such as being called by a friend all of a sudden cannot be foreseen, but they can significantly alter the next steps we might take and thus the entire future.
Mindfulness, on the other hand, teaches people the skill of paying attention only to what is happening in the present. This is an exercise for the mind, given that it’s used to wander so whenever this is happening, you have to become aware of it and come back to the present moment.
For those who have never tried mindfulness before, it can seem like a very difficult thing to do. There are so many thoughts that go through our minds every single second, that trying to control them seems like a full-time job. However, just like everything else in life, it’s a matter of building a habit that might ultimately lead to a much happier life and a lighter overall approach.
Practicing mindfulness might seem to be something new, but this is only because the media and famous people have started talking about it more and more in recent years. However, the concept has been around for a long time and programs such as the one developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 to help deal with chronic pain and stress is just one example.
The U.S. Army has also taken mindfulness into account and adopted it in its programs in order to enhance military resilience, which shows a lot about how effective such an approach can be.