To kick off the new year, I will be doing a new series of posts called “Health Habits For A Thriving Life,” where I will focus on my top 10 habits that will help you find the energy, focus and balance in order to take your life to the next level and make progress on those big goals for this year. It’s time to buckle down, get serious and get busy doing the work to make this your best year yet! So here with go with #1…
The word mindfulness is a pretty broad swiping term that could mean a lot of different things and apply to many different things. It a word that’s becoming more common in the wellness world and the ever expanding self improvement realm. The dictionary defines mindfulness as a noun –
- the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
- a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
People often interchange the words mindfulness and mediation to mean the same thing but they aren’t. Meditation is another habit worth exploring (more later) and you can even find mindfulness-meditations where you do body scans or focus on a single thought to keep you in the zone.
For the past year, I have made a continuous effort to be mindful all day long. In our society, it’s so incredibly easy to be swept up in the current of feeling rushed, social media distractions and be in a constant state of reactivity. The act of turning my awareness inward and accepting my state of being has been life changing in how I interact with the world. It has provided a space between moments that gives me peace and clarity. Once I started incorporating mindfulness into my weekly routine I was less reactive and generally less on edge. My reactions to stressful news or actions didn’t raise the same response from me.
Incorporating and practicing mindfulness is probably the easiest way to reduce stress in your life. In as little as 5 minutes, you can change the mental state that you are in and help you live a healthier, less anxiety filled life.
Mindfulness is nothing new but it’s definitely trending up in popularity these days. In 1979, chronically ill patients were recruited for a study by Jon Kabat-Zinn to take part in a newly formed program which is known now as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR.) Many years later, there is a ton of research to support how mindfulness based interventions improve mental and physical states compared to tradition psychological interventions.(*)
So how do you start to be mindful in your day? Here are some ideas to begin incorporating mindfulness into your day:
- Download app such as Headspace or Calm. These apps have mindfulness meditations centered around many different topics. These meditations range from a couple minutes and up depending on what you have time for.
- Download mindfulness playlist on Spotify or from other websites. I’ve found some great playlists on Spotify that have mindfulness tracks. This is a great option since it’s on your phone or desktop so you can use the track whenever you have time!
- Set a reminder on your phone to be mindful or take mid-day mindful break. Sometimes we get really caught up in our errands and to-do lists that we forget to do things that help us grow. Set a reminder on your phone to go off before bed so you make sure you get in your mindful time or take a 10 minute break from work to go sit in your car, close your eyes and be very present or listen to a guided meditation.
- Go for a mindful walk. Activities can also be a great way to practice being mindful. Turn off your phone and don’t use headphones. As you walk, pay very close attention to how you feel, do a body scan or take in all the details of the environment around you. When you notice your mind wandering, just bring your attention back to the present moment, your body and surroundings.
Mindfulness is a life long practice but it is 100% worth the effort. Are there days where you may lose your cool and get out of whack? Yes for sure, but it’s coming back to that practice and creating that space between thoughts and reactions that will change your life for the better. Building a mindfulness practice works for people of all ages and backgrounds and it’s never too late to turn inward and be present in the now.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with mindfulness. What do you do to be mindful? What are your tips for making it a habit?
Keep on steppin’ friends!