Mindfulness Based Stress Management

I attended the first session of a four-session workshop on Mindfulness Based Stress Management (MBSM) ograninsed by Family Central this morning. The facilitator is Evelyn Khong, a trainer (also a counsellor) from Fei Yue Community Services. Because I’ve attended another workshop conducted by her, I knew I was going to enjoy the 12 hours (4 x 3hrs).

Evelyn explained the 7 Dimensions of Wellness (physical, intellectual/mental, emotional, social, spiritual, financial & vocational) before conducting an activity that helped explain the definition of MDSM (The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something) and the learning outcomes (Understand what MBSM is & the benefits, Difference between being & doing, Identify thoughts, feelings & sensation, Be mindful of stress & employ stress management techniques, Recognise and apply the ACT of mindfulness).

This was followed by another activity that would explain The Suitcase Of Our Mind, and leading to Integrity or Despair in the Later Years. According to Erik Erikson, there are 8 stages in life: Infancy, Toddlehood, Pre School, School Age, Teenage, Young Adult (20-35), Middle Adult (36-50) & Older Adult (>50).

The questions to ask are: What have we been packing in all these years? As we look back in life, did we find integrity or despair? What are some of the thoughts that run through our mind every day? Do we reflect on our day at night?

We need to be mindful about the suitcase of our mind. Even letting out a sigh is a mindfulness technique. We need to step back and check: why are we sighing, what is causing us to sigh? We must remind ourselves of the benefits of MBSM (Better self control, Be more objective, Increased tolerance, Improved concentration, Less stress & reduced reactivity, Relate better with others); otherwise, if enduring outweighs enjoying, the system will soon give up.

We also need to differentiate between the Positive Stress Cycle (positive behavorial response, decreasd stress symptoms, improved mood, beneficial thoughts, relaxation self-talk) and Negative Stress Cycle (automatic thoughts, negative moods & emotions, maladaptive behaviour, negative physical symptoms).

To unpack our suitcase, we have to be aware of the causes of stress (children & family, chronic worry, financial problems, major life changes, negative self talk, over scheduled, relationship difficulties, rigid thinking & lack of flexibility, unrealistic expectations/ perfectionism, workload). The non-verbal cues (tone 38% + body language 55%) overshadows the words used (7%) in causing stress.

For “homework”,we have to be more mindful, think about the factors that make us stressed/uptight and how we react to situations. And remember to do deep breathing exercises.

In the next session, we will learn more about Good Stress and Bad Stress, our response to stress, body sensations, and stress management & some exercises that help relieve stress which is what I look forward to most.

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