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3 Components of Mindfulness & How They Impact Our Mood

An article from Technology for Mindfulness by Robert Plotkin​​

Mindfulness is a very broad term; there are so many aspects of mindfulness and so many different ways in which it can be practiced. With the rise in popularity of mindfulness, there have been more studies popping up about mindfulness and its benefits. One recent study set out to differentiate how different components of mindfulness impact us.


In this study, students aged 20-30 received mindfulness alerts on their smartphone 6x per day for 9 days. These alerts include things like questions about recent emotions, problems they encountered, and how mindful they had been. The questions were based on three dimensions of mindfulness:


  1. Present-Moment Attention
  2. Nonjudgmental Acceptance
  3. Acting with Awareness

Research findings discovered that each of these dimensions lead to different benefits for those practicing mindfulness.

1

Present-Moment Attention

This was the strongest predictor of increased positive emotions. The students who were more aware in the present moment indicated that they felt happier and better overall. Why might this be? When you allow your attention to wander it shifts to things like anticipation of future events or regrets about the past.


When you notice your mind wandering, try focusing on your breath or something in your current surroundings.

2

Nonjudgmental Acceptance

The ability to withhold judgments of your experiences and emotions was strongly linked to a decrease in negative emotions. This means not labeling your experiences as good or bad or placing labels on yourself and others around you and accepting everyone and everything around you for what they are.

Instead of thinking that person is annoying, change your mindset to something like this person has asked me 4 questions in the last two minutes and is making it difficult to complete my work. You’re still noting your emotions toward the person, but without judgment and without labels.

3

Acting with Awareness

Although you’ve probably seen mindfulness practices that ask us to do everything with intention and awareness, rather than on autopilot, this study actually discovered that acting with awareness has little to no ability to predict people’s positive or negative feelings.

So, if you want to feel more positive, keep your mind in the present moment. If you want to feel less negative, learn to accept without judgment.

Full Article:


3 Components of Mindfulness & How They Impact Our Mood


 BY Robert Plotkin


Plotkin, Robert. “3 Components of Mindfulness & How They Impact Our Mood.” Technology for Mindfulness, 6 Nov. 2019, technologyformindfulness.com/3-components-of-mindfulness-how-they-impact-our-mood/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Emily]

I chose this article because I enjoyed the concept and the fact that they were bringing the idea of mindfulness into the modern age. We are often told to just "be positive" which seems way easier said than done, but this article gives you steps to make that idea a reality. 

What Science Says About Why You’re Stressed and How to Cope

An excerpt from What Science Says About Why You're Stressed and How to Cope by Bridget Alex​​

Whether animal, vegetable, mineral or machine, everything experiences stress — broadly defined as challenges to equilibrium, a balanced state of being.

The Human Stress Story

In biology, stress is the body’s response to perceived threats to our physical or mental well-being. Moderate amounts are healthy and normal. But too much — or too little — causes problems. Chronic stress is linked to cardiovascular disease, anxiety and depression. Stress associated with extreme events such as combat can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms of PTSD, which affects over 7 million Americans, include flashbacks and hypervigilance long after a trauma. Meanwhile, recent studies show that people who underreact to stress are more likely to have impulsive behavior and substance addiction.

The Adaptive Stress Response

A 1936 Nature paper launched the field of stress research. In the study, physician Hans Seyle — later called the father of stress — subjected rats to cold, drugs, excessive exercise and other assaults. Whatever the stimuli, the rats exhibited similar physiological effects.

Now understood as the stress response, this set of bodily changes is an adaptation that allows animals to focus their energy on survival and forgo other matters such as growth or reproduction. It’s initiated when the brain detects a potential threat and launches a cascade of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, that affects the endocrine, nervous and immune systems.

One stream of hormones, called the sympathomedullary (SAM) pathway, triggers the fight-or-flight response, characterized by upticks in heart rate, breathing and blood sugar levels. Another pathway, the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, keeps the body on high alert by tapping glucose reserves and dialing back nonessential functions.

How Our Bodies React to Stress

When a stressor occurs, the amygdala region perceives the threat and sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus, which acts like a command center. It kicks off a stream of hormones along two pathways: the sympathomedullary (SAM) and the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis.

(Credit: Jay Smith)

How to Cope

There are a lot of coping strategies that relieve negative feelings associated with stress. Some — such as meditation, journaling, therapy and medication — are recommended; others — denial, overeating, alcohol — are not. Alternatively, some strategies remove the stressor. For instance, a couple in a toxic relationship may sever ties, or someone overwhelmed by to-dos could improve time management skills. The best approach depends on the person and their circumstances.

For healthy individuals with everyday challenges, simple changes can help. Nearly 30 studies with a total of more than 2,500 participants found stress and anxiety were reduced thanks to mindfulness programs that taught people to live in the present, without judgment. Similarly, a 2017 review of 42 studies in Psychoneuroendocrinology concluded that yoga improves measures of a healthy stress response, including blood pressure, resting heart rate and cortisol levels.

Full Article:


What Science Says About Why You're Stressed and How to Cope


 BY Bridget Alex


Alex, Bridget. “What Science Says About Why You're Stressed and How to Cope.” Discover Magazine, Discover Magazine, 15 Nov. 2019, www.discovermagazine.com/mind/what-science-says-about-why-youre-stressed-and-how-to-cope.

Account Manager

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Emily]

We’ve all experienced a stress-related increased heartbeat, stomachache or headache at some point in our lives, even if were weren’t clearly recognizing the reasons behind those physical reactions. Understanding how to cope with physical stress is just as important as understanding how to cope with mental stress.

From Peter Clark to Rodger Horton, black educators are still rare. And that needs to change.

An excerpt from From Peter Clark to Rodger Horton, black educators are still rare. And that needs to change. by Evan Millward of WCPO Cincinnati

CINCINNATI — "None of my teachers until my third grade looked like me, walked like me, or talked like me," said Rodger Horton, a kindergarten teacher at Chase Elementary.


He grew up with dreams of becoming a police officer, but that changed in college at Central State University in Xenia. He credited mentors in his education for the turning point.


That, and opportunity.


"[Recruiters] all wanted to speak with me," he said. "Because there were so few African Americans in the early 2000s, particularly males, that were looking to go into education, particularly elementary education, everyone wanted to sit down with me."


It's nothing new.


Before Peter H. Clark became the first teacher in the new Cincinnati Independent Colored School District in the mid-1800s, black children didn't have many educators who looked like them.


And they still don't.


In Ohio, non-white teachers made up 5.64 percent of the workforce in the 2018-19 school year. Students of color, meanwhile, represented 31 percent of pupils.

Kentucky's demographics were similar. Just 4.8 percent of the Commonwealth's teachers were non-white, while 24.2 percent of students were something other than white.


New research has shown that changing that gap brought dropout rates and disciplinary problems down while raising test scores and positive views of education.


Which brings us back to Horton.

He has taught at Chase in Northside for 16 years -- 10 of those years he's taught kindergarten.


On a recent Tuesday, Horton wrangled more than one dozen students with the help of a paraprofessional aide. He asked them what 'data' is and how it's used. Students counted rockets, cars and buses. One by one, they graphed those numbers on a smartboard at the front of the room.


The other adults in the room, like this reporter, wondered when kindergarten got so advanced.


It was a big change for Horton, too.


"I had to learn to wipe noses and I had to learn to tie shoes," he said. "But ultimately, I had to learn how to hug and had to learn how to love."


Doing M.O.R.E.

One of the major drivers mentioned in the University of Phoenix report is student engagement as a way to reach future educators of color.


Back at Chase Elementary, the dismissal bell rang.


"Hands up top," Horton instructed. "Everybody stop."


But the day was not over for Horton and several older students. Horton is the school leader for Cincinnati Public Schools' M.O.R.E. program. It stands for Men, Organized, Respectful, Educated.


"It lets them know there's someone who cares for them," Horton said. "It's almost from the perspective that I'm a pseudo-father."


M.O.R.E. was not designed with the goal of creating future educators. It's built - and gained national recognition - for better preparing young men of color for college and life outside classroom walls.


"We never give up on each other," said Alonzo Berry, a third year M.O.R.E. student. "We help each other and we help others."


There's no denying, though, the power of representation in a classroom. Horton remembered how that third grade year changed him and his perspective on school, all because he had a teacher who looked like him and took the time to care.


"It allowed me to realize the potential that I had to learn at the same level and same pace as my peers," he said. "It opened up my world so much more ... instead of being ostracized, I was just unique and I excelled in the classroom."

Full Article:


From Peter Clark to Rodger Horton, black educators are still rare. And that needs to change.


 BY EVAN MILLWARD


Millward, Evan. “From Peter Clark to Rodger Horton, Black Educators Are Still Rare. And That Needs to Change.” WCPO, 12 Feb. 2020, www.wcpo.com/news/local-news/hamilton-county/cincinnati/from-peter-clark-to-rodger-horton-black-educators-are-still-rare-and-that-needs-to-change.

Director of Strategic Communications

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[nEkIESHa]

I chose this article because it is a local story that shows the positive impact of black educators on our youth. Having someone that you can relate to on a personal level to help push you to succeed can make all the difference in a young child's life. 

Be More Mindful: 7 Tips to Improve Your Awareness

An article from Ellevate Network by Caroline Dowd-Higgins

My question to you is: Is it “business as usual” this year? Is everything working the way you’d like, or are you making changes?


Many of us are hoping to fulfill numerous plans – wanting “more” and “better” in the job, health, money and/or relationship departments. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting “better” and “more” in these areas, the pursuit can leave us feeling like a dog chasing its tail. It can be exhausting!


Author, speaker, and mindfulness coach Diane Sieg says that becoming more mindful of how we proceed through our day is the antidote to feeling like we’re running in circles. “It’s so easy to be on auto-pilot in your life – procrastinating or not getting enough sleep or exercise,” Sieg says. “Mindfulness is about being more present and aware of your behavior in each moment. It can help you change habits that are no longer serving you.”


Sieg, who is also a registered nurse and a yoga instructor, has made it her mission to help others slow down and “stop living life like it’s an emergency.” “Working in the ER for over 20 years, I saw the effects of stress – the diseases and injuries that resulted from it,” Sieg explains. “With today’s stress levels, we need mindfulness in our lives more than ever.”


Through her online programs, Your Mindful Year and The 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge, Sieg provides step-by-step guidance and support around living life with more calm and awareness. She suggests these 7 tips for bringing more mindfulness into your life:

1.

Meditate


Taking even just 5 minutes to sit quietly and follow your breath can help you feel more conscious and connected for the rest of your day

2.

Focus on One Thing at a Time


Studies have found that tasks take 50% longer with 50% more errors when multi-tasking, so consider “uni-tasking”, with breaks in between, whenever possible.

3.

Slow Down


Savor the process, whether it’s writing a report, drinking a cup of tea, or cleaning out closets. Deliberate and thoughtful attention to daily actions promotes healthy focus and can keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

4.

Eat Mindfully


Eating your meal without the TV, computer or paper in front of you, where you can truly taste and enjoy what you’re eating, is good, not only for your body, but for your soul as well.

5.

Keep Phone and Computer Time In Check


With all of the media at our fingertips, we can easily be on information overload. Set boundaries for screen time – with designated times for social networking (even set an alarm) – and do your best to keep mobile devices out of reach at bedtime.

6.

Move


Whether it’s walking, practicing yoga, or just stretching at your desk, become aware of your body’s sensations by moving.

7.

Spend Time in Nature


Take walks through a park, the woods, mountain trails or by the beach – wherever you can be outside. Getting outdoors is good for body, mind and spirit, and keeps you in the present.

As you pursue your goals, I hope you can incorporate Diane Sieg’s tips for more mindfulness into your life. You give yourself a real gift when you can remember to take things one step at a time and savor each moment.


Full Article:


Be More Mindful: 7 Tips to Improve Your Awareness


 BY Caroline Dowd-Higgins


Dowd-Higgins, Caroline. “Be More Mindful: 7 Tips to Improve Your Awareness.” Ellevate, Ellevate, 31 Jan. 2020, www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/6170-be-more-mindful-7-tips-to-improve-your-awareness.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because I think it's a good reminder of all of the little things we can do to stay mindful. Most of these things would take little to no effort out of my day and yet it is still something that often gets put on the back burner. Putting importance on mindfulness can be as easy as 7 simple steps. 

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