By Carol Phillips
Have you discovered the gift of mindfulness? We often hear the term “mindfulness” used in conversations regarding health and wellness. Do you use the power of mindfulness in your daily life? Have you already experienced the many benefits of this powerful tool or is your life simply too busy?
According to Merriam-Webster.com, mindfulness is “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” I describe mindfulness as “purposeful thought.”
A Wonderful Healthy Habit
This wonderful healthy habit is a way to incorporate gratitude and positive thinking into your life on a daily basis. Beware of being “in the moment” with a “glass half empty” mentality (which most people don’t even realize they’re doing), which is not the direction we want to go. Negative thinking only leads to high stress, an increased risk of depression, and having more time to drum up conflict with others, a.k.a. “misery loves company.”
The idea is to be aware of your thoughts, take a step back from conflict and embrace positive thinking. Be grateful for what you have in your life and try to understand another person’s point of view. Put yourself in their shoes, figuratively, and you’ll be more likely to have an empathetic and understanding mindset.
Health and wellness depend on balance, preferably daily. This is one of the reasons why taking a one-week vacation each year feels too short… because it is! There’s an imbalance between the vast number of work hours and the brief time off. We don’t allow our brains sufficient time to catch up. We even tend to overschedule our vacations and life becomes a vicious cycle of over-activity and stress.
How much time do you spend each day thinking about past regrets or worrying about what you need to accomplish in the future, whether it’s tomorrow, next month, or next year? Most of that time only results in brain fatigue.
When we learn to appreciate the good things in life and live in the moment, our brains can begin to unwind and relax, reducing stress. This, in turn, has a positive effect on our physical wellness: our heart rate and blood pressure tend to go down and our energy increases, to name just a few. This all combines to move us in a healthier direction.
You Can Do It!
How can you easily implement this magical practice into your daily life and why is it so important? Our lives tend to be overly scheduled and we continuously deal with unavoidable stressors and challenges. See the following hints to practice mindfulness:
- Choose various times during the day to just take a few seconds to stop and breathe. Literally tell your brain to relax.
- Concentrate on just doing one thing at a time; having one thought at a time. Pay attention to what you’re doing, such as driving. How many times have you driven somewhere and not remembered the trip?
- When you’re speaking with someone, really pay attention to what they’re saying. When you’re constantly thinking about your response, you’re not listening to them.
- If you feel stressed, focus on something quiet and calming. For example, sitting alone on the beach.
- Practice gratitude. Be continuously grateful for all the positives in your life.
- Remind yourself that you don’t need to be thinking, worrying, and planning all the time. You can set aside a five-minute block every day to process negative thoughts and then move back into a positive direction!
- Give yourself positive feedback every time you take time to be mindful.
- Use the buddy system and challenge a friend to incorporate mindfulness into their life and then give each other updates.
- Consciously notice all the benefits realized, which will motivate you to find more and more time to practice this healthy habit.
Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis will most certainly be a boost to your mental and physical health and wellness. Ready, set, be thoughtful!