What Is Mindfulness?
The JED Foundation explains mindfulness as paying attention to the present. When you’re mindful, you let yourself experience your sensations, thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. Mindfulness keeps you engaged with the present and helps you “go with the flow” of life without complicating each experience with information from the past or judgmental thoughts from within yourself.
What Are Some of the Benefits?
Improves Well-Being – By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.
Increased Body Awareness – Mindfulness can be helpful in recognizing how your body feels, identifying pain points, monitoring breathing, and learning more about how your body moves during physical activity. Think of it as a self-diagnostic tool.Once you know more about how your body moves and functions, the better you can prevent injury and adjust your form.
Improves Physical Health – Mindfulness can: help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.
Change Eating Habits – Mindfulness can be helpful for anyone trying to change their eating habits, especially people who snack out of boredom. Before you start to snack on something, consider is it because you are actually hungry, you’re bored, or it’s out of habit. If it’s the first one, this will also give you time to consider what you want to eat, as well.
Improves Mental Health – In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including: depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
How Do I Do This?
It’s easier than you think! Here are some ways to introduce mindfulness in your life.
It can be easy to get so wrapped up in the negativity of life that we forget to acknowledge and appreciate all the good. Use a journal or notes app on your phone to write down positive people and happenings in your day. Put a picture as your screensaver that reminds you of people who are important to you. Reach out to a brother to thank him for the positive influence he has had on your life.
Sometimes the way to insert some calm into our lives is easier than we think. A simple breathing exercise you can do is called 4-7-8. Inhale for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale of eight. Do this cycle three times. You could even make this part of your daily routine.
Take a tech timeout
Our phones can mean we’re always connected and always on. This can get to be exhausting. Try using your phone with intentionality. As you reach for your phone, pause and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” The reason may be one that will give you energy as you are getting positive information or connection. However, if you find there isn’t a good reason for what you’re doing, or it’s going to put negativity in your day, it may be best to opt out of that check-in.
Rather than always having to be doing something, take a moment to just be. Sit and take in the sights, the sounds, the tastes, and the scenes of your current environment. Oftentimes, we are so busy thinking about where we’ve been and where we’re going that we aren’t appreciating where we literally are right now.
Go for a walk
Going for a short walk is a great way to take a time out from whatever is stressing you out or you have been stuck on for a while. If the weather and environment allow, try to get outside, otherwise, take a few laps around the hallways. Instead of thinking about whatever is on your mind, try to focus on what is happening around you. This could be listening to the sounds around you (i.e. the trees blowing in the wind, sounds of traffic, or listen to the HVAC system in the building), or focus on what your body is doing as you move around (i.e. how far do you swing your arms, where are you breathing from, does anything hurt as you walk).