Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stressed Out? Dr. Sears Can Help.

Director of Union Institute & University’s Center for Clinical Mindfulness and Meditation Offers Tips on How to Handle Stress
Mindfulness is based on ancient meditation practices; Dr. Richard Sears says it can be a powerful tool in managing holiday-related stress and anxiety

CINCINNATI – Stress. It’s all around us. In addition to the ongoing stresses of our lives, recent events are adding even more pressures on us: a worsening economy; job layoffs; pressures of the holidays; and the daylight hours growing shorter, to name a few.

“Ongoing stress has long been known to often lead to more serious difficulties,” says Dr. Richard Sears, psychologist and faculty member of the Doctorate in Psychology program (PsyD) at Union Institute & University, a private, non-profit university headquartered in Walnut Hills. “Links have been established with medical problems, worsening of chronic pain, depression, and anxiety disorders.”

In May, Sears established Union Institute & University’s Center for Clinical Mindfulness and Meditation (CCMM ) to gather information from researchers, therapists, and practitioners so that these methods can be disseminated and further refined. “Mindfulness is one method of paying attention to and wisely working with our thoughts, bodily sensations, and emotions,” says Sears. “Through simple exercises, we eventually come to bring a richer awareness and presence into our daily lives. By stepping outside of our ruminating thoughts, we can develop a broader perspective.”

The CCMM also serves as a resource to the general public. Those interested in mindfulness are invited to visit Sears and the CCMM at UI&U in Walnut Hills. Sears also hosts 8-week mindfulness groups at the center, and its Web site also serves as a resource - where those interested in mindfulness can read articles and find tips on using mindfulness techniques in their everyday lives.

Sears recently posted five tips for reducing stress using the mindful approach on the CCMM Web site. He is also currently registering people for a Mindfulness-based group to start in January. These groups have been shown to help prevent relapses of depression, which can be especially important as the winter season approaches.

For more information about mindfulness and to read Dr. Sears’ tips, visit the Center for Clinical Mindfulness and Meditation website at To register or to find information about the 8-week sessions, visit the Web site, email, or call 513-487-1196.

5 tips for reducing stress using the mindfulness approach
By Richard Sears, PsyD, MBA, ABPP

1. Take a breath.
Too often, we rush from one thing to another, and barely take time to breathe. Intentionally breathing deeply for a moment disrupts the usual pattern of stress, and refreshes our bodies.

2. Come to your senses.
If you are stuck in your head, worrying and thinking too much, bring yourself back into the physical world for a moment. Feel the physical sensations in your body, smell the air, gaze out the window, listen to some music, taste a cup of tea.

3. Step back.
If you get caught up in what you are doing, mentally pull back and try to gain a wider perspective on the situation. What is the “big picture?”

4. Watch out for judgments.
We are constantly comparing ourselves, which often creates unnecessary stress. Are you being unreasonably harsh on yourself, or creating a standard that is too high?

5. Re-evaluate your priorities.
From time-to-time, ask yourself, “Is what I am doing really all that important?” You may be surprised to discover how often the answer is no. Take some time to think about what is really most important in your life, and muster the courage to disengage from things that take away from your priorities.


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