What is “mindfulness” and why should you care? “Mindfulness” is everywhere – it is used to describe everything from parenting to eating – yet its scientifically-proven benefits are not generally known, and, for many, it seems foreign and inaccessible. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Nor should it.
What is Mindfulness?
Put simply, mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in where you are or what you are doing. In our busy, over-scheduled lives, too often we are distracted, acting on auto-pilot, worrying about the future, or ruminating over the past. In contrast, mindfulness is about being fully aware, without judgment, of what is happening in the moment – whether with another person, in your environment, or in your body. This mindful quality has been scientifically shown to reduce stress, as well as anxiety and depression. Being mindful offers the opportunity to notice what is happening in any situation and be more intentional about how you respond. Studies have reported other positive health effects of mindfulness, including reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, boosting the immune system, increasing resilience and emotional intelligence, and fostering deeper social connections. It has been used to boost productivity, performance, and parenting.
How Can You Try Mindfulness?
Being mindful is something you can do anywhere, even in just 1-2 minutes, and it can have a powerful impact on your day. Here are some simple suggestions for you to try it out:
- Start Your Day with a Few Mindful Minutes: Start your day with just a few minutes where you are fully present in the moment. You can do this while combing your hair, in the shower, or looking out the window as your day begins. They key is to just use all of your senses to be deeply aware of what you are experiencing.
- Put a Mindful Spring In Your Walk: Use the time when you are walking – to meetings, lunch, in the parking lot – to put your phone away and look around. Spring is in the air – notice the air temperature, the tree branches, or even the din of traffic. Being outside also allows your brain to rest and body to relax.
- Mindfully Drink Your Favorite Beverage: Instead of gulping down your coffee, tea, or other favorite beverage, sip it slowly and pay attention to its smell, temperature, and taste. Being fully focused for just one minute will encourage you to bring that attention to your day.
- Try a Mindful App: There are a multitude of mindfulness practices – ranging from those focused on happiness, stress, or sleep – available on apps like Calm and Headspace. Try some out and see if you find one that works to calm your mind and keep you centered.
Director, Thrivewell Coaching