On the morning of Oct. 3, the ballroom of the Blackwell at Ohio State University was filled with an unusual sight—professionals sitting relaxed, eyes closed, inhaling slowly, arms rising over their heads.
Maryanna Klatt, Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine and Associate Director of Education at the Center for Integrative Health and Wellness at Ohio State, led attendees at the Personalized Health Care Conference in a series of exercises designed to increase mindfulness.
Klatt’s exercises followed her talk emphasizing the impact of everyday stress on our lives and health. The problem with stress is that not releasing it has physiological consequences that sabotage health and cost lots of money, she said.
Mindfulness means paying purposeful and nonjudgmental attention to your present surroundings—living in the moment and paying attention to it while you’re there. Mindfulness techniques can be used to reduce stress, and Klatt wants those techniques to be used in stressful places like at work.
While we all know the tenets of good health—eat right, get enough sleep and maintain a meaningful social community—these behaviors are often what we avoid when we are stressed.
“You can’t change anything unless you’re aware of it first,” Klatt said. She recommends recognizing what you normally do when stressed and what helps you relax. Then, mindfulness techniques can provide strategies to help deal with stress in a more productive manner.
Klatt has tailored some of these mindfulness practices to the Ohio State workplace in Mindfulness in Motion, a program through the Center for Integrative Medicine that guides busy adults in stress reduction through meditation, yoga and community support.
Finding the solution to stress often involves walking through it together, Klatt concluded. While we may not be able to change our stressors, we do have the power to change our reactions to them.
By April Gocha, PhD