Improving your mental health with mindfulness

Posted at 7:25 AM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 07:25:35-04

GRAND RAPIDS — Our mental and emotional well being has been tested in ways we’ve never expected, and the stress people are under right now is intense and sometimes hard to navigate with the uncertainty that lingers around us. That’s why it’s important to keep talking about mental health and the resources available.

The Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness is offering classes to equip people with different ways to cope during these times, classes focusing on things we may not even have in our toolbox when it comes to managing stress and anxiety right now.

There are tools for building self compassion and resiliency--to help us bounce back in the midst of difficulty--and self-kindness, to allow us to be honest with our selves without getting lost in criticism, so you can pick yourself back up and start over.

Mindfulness can be helpful in reducing stress and living in the moment by practicing to focus on your breath and reduce tension. April Kaiserlian, co-founder at the GR Center for Mindfulness, says that has become a key part of her own personal practice.

“In my everyday life, that is one of the most important things that I can watch for myself ... I've only been awake for 10 minutes and already I'm making my coffee in this really tense way. Now maybe I can soften there in a moment of stress or difficulty discerning ... How tense or how engaged do I need to be, because we do need some tension, some engagement, when things are difficult, but maybe I can soften a little bit and still engage in this stressor. That has become a crucial part of my own practice, and that has proved to be invaluable during these extremely stressful times, is discerning how much tension I need to have in my body to accomplish something, but also discerning when I can soften. I just, almost intuitively now, soften throughout the day. I check in that way with myself, and I think that's very practical for everybody right now.”

Of course, this isn’t going to fix all your problems. But Kaiserlian says it can help you move through your stressors with more flexibility.

The GR Center for Mindfulness is holding free online information sessions this week if you’re interested in learning more.

  • Building Resilience and Happiness: Aug 4, 6:30 p.m.
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: Aug 5, 9:30 a.m.
  • Tools for Self-Kindness: Aug 6, 6:30 p.m.

You can sign up at