Mindfulness: The Biohack for Work Stress
Why is life so stressful and what can we do about it?
Dr. Patricia Jennings, associate professor at the UVA Curry School of Education, joined Grounds on the Go in September to explain how a biological function that evolved to insure our survival is now making us sick.
“The fight or flight reaction evolved to help us adapt to real, physical threats. When we feel threatened, our brains trigger a flood of hormones and neurotransmitters that prepare our body to fight or run for our lives,” Dr. Jennings explains. “However, today most of our threats are psychological, afraid our boss is judging us or angry that a colleague is being unfair. In these situations, the stress reaction does us no good and can actually impair our ability to respond appropriately.”
Practicing mindfulness helps us hack the stress response by bringing greater awareness to how we feel and using our breath to calm ourselves
Dr. Jennings is the tenth presenter to speak at a Grounds on the Go lecture. Formed in partnership with the UVA Applied Research Institute, the series aims to bring the University of Virginia’s most prominent scholars to the Charlottesville community for lively presentations on timely topics. Previous talks have covered topics ranging from fake news to Alzheimer’s research and net neutrality.
In her presentation, Dr. Jennings discusses the increased time we now spend feeling stress and the negative impact on our overall health, such as heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and depression. “Practicing mindfulness helps us hack the stress response by bringing greater awareness to how we feel and using our breath to calm ourselves. Then we can respond thoughtfully, rather than react unconsciously. In this way we build greater resilience resulting in better mental and physical health.”