How Mindfulness Lowers Stress

Feb 05, 2024
woman sitting peacefully in nature meditating

Most of the women I work with as clients are in their late 30s, 40s and 50s. Life at this stage is a beautiful journey, but we all know it comes with its fair share of stress and challenges. Kids, work, maintaining friendships, aging parents, changes with our sig-os, changes with our bodies and the cropping up of disease . . . what else do you want to add to the list? 

If you're feeling the weight of stress or facing burnout, you're not alone. In this blog post, we'll explore the transformative power of mindfulness and how it can be your secret weapon in conquering stress, offering you not just relief but a path to rediscover balance and well-being. It has been the backbone of my own health and wellness journey and I want to share this with you! 

Understanding Stress and Cortisol:

Let's start by demystifying stress. It's like that uninvited guest who overstays their welcome. For women in their 30s and beyond, managing stress becomes a crucial aspect of maintaining overall health. One key player in the stress response is cortisol, our body's natural alarm system. Elevated cortisol levels, especially when chronic, can lead to a myriad of issues, from fatigue to weight gain. Read this post to take a deeper dive! 

Mindfulness: Your Stress Buster

Now, let's talk about mindfulness—a game-changer in the realm of stress management. Mindfulness is not just a buzzword, nor is it just sitting down to clear your head; it's a practice that involves being fully present and engaged in the current moment without judgment. For those dealing with the demands of life in their 30s and beyond, mindfulness offers a simple yet powerful tool to navigate stress and burnout.

The Mindfulness-Cortisol Connection:

Here's the magic: mindfulness has a direct impact on cortisol levels. In a 2017 meta-analysis of 45 studies, Pascoe et al. found that meditation not only reduced cortisol levels, but also C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker in the blood), blood pressure, heart rate, triglycerides and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (an inflammatory regulator).

This shows that meditation and mindfulness practices leads to decreased physiological markers of stress. The simple act of being present and tuning into your breath/body can signal to your HPA axis and sympathetic nervous system that it's time to relax, helping to bring cortisol levels back to a healthier balance.

How to Start Your Mindfulness Journey:

  1. Mindful Breathing: Start small by incorporating mindful breathing exercises into your daily routine. Find a quiet space, take a few deep breaths, and focus your attention on each inhale and exhale. This practice can be a lifesaver during stressful moments. My personal favorite is the 4-7-8 breath. I have used this countless times before stressful patient conversations, tests, interviews, air-plane rides . . . 😒 Click here to grab a video tutorial on how to do it. 

  2. Body Scan Meditation: This technique involves paying attention to different parts of your body, gradually moving from head to toe. Not only does it promote relaxation, but it also enhances your awareness of physical sensations.

  3. Mindful Walking: Turn your daily stroll into a mindful practice. Feel the ground beneath your feet, notice the rhythm of your steps, and take in the sights and sounds around you. It's a simple yet effective way to anchor yourself in the present moment. When I was working in an office, this was one of my favorite things to do during my lunch time. 

Mindfulness in Everyday Life:

Mindfulness isn't confined to a meditation cushion; it's a way of life. It's about being present with what you are doing. Whether you're sipping your morning coffee or tackling a work project, infuse mindfulness into your daily activities. This not only helps manage stress in the moment but also cultivates a lasting sense of calm and resilience.

Closing Thoughts:

The journey to conquer stress and burnout is uniquely yours. Mindfulness is not a quick fix; it's a lifelong companion that empowers you to navigate the ups and downs with grace and resilience. As you integrate mindfulness into your life, may you discover the peace that comes from being fully present, one breath at a time. Studies do show that mindfulness and meditation directly impact a number of markers related to the stress response, so consistent practice is beneficial!

As you venture into the world of mindfulness, know that there are so many different ways of practicing. Experiment with different practices and find what resonates with you. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach; the key is to discover what brings you to the here and now, allowing for peace and calm in the midst of life's chaos. 


Pascoe, M. C., Thompson, D. R., Jenkins, Z. M., & Ski, C. F. (2017). Mindfulness mediates the physiological markers of stress: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of psychiatric research95, 156–178.

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