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Just Stop and Smell the Roses
What is mindfulness?Merriam-Webster’s defines mindfulness as “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.” “To me, being mindful means slowing down and paying attention to the little things and sensations around you at any given time,” said Fisher, “It’s going back to the time tested saying of, ‘stop and smell the roses’.”
What could practicing mindfulness do for me?
Although research is ongoing, studies have shown promising results. Mindfulness practices are being introduced in schools, the work place, and at health facilities, like Bayhealth. Studies suggest that practicing mindfulness could help:
• Reduce stress and anxiety
• Improve mood
• Prevent or treat depression
• Increase body satisfaction
• Improve cognition
• Improve focus and concentration
• Lower blood pressure
• Improve sleep
What are some ways to practice mindfulness?
At first it sounds simple, but for someone who’s trying to start, it can feel very strange. It can be difficult to sit still and not let your mind wander for even a few minutes. The key is practice. It takes time but the more you practice the greater the benefits. These techniques can be used by anyone, at any age, just about anywhere.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND REPEAT
Set aside some time or take a few minutes when you need it most. Mindful breathing consists of taking deep breathes and focusing on your breathing. If your mind begins to wander, just bring the focus back to your breathing.
TRAIN YOUR MIND WITH YOUR BODY
Yoga incorporates breathing techniques and relaxation with poses, movement and stretching. It can be practiced at home or in a class. While you move through each series of poses, you’ll focus on your breath and how your body feels.
TAKE A STROLL
Meditation is a common way to practice mindfulness, but you don’t have to stay seated. Take a 10 minute walk, noticing the sights and sounds around you. When your thoughts start to wander, take note and return back to the present.
EAT WITH PURPOSE
When you sit down for a meal, take note of all the senses involved: the tastes, textures and the scents with each bite. You are essentially meditating while you eat. Listen to your body and stop when you are full.
Keep in mind
“My advice for anyone wanting to start is to acknowledge any preconceived feelings about it and just give it a whirl,” said Fisher. “You have nothing to lose and much to gain: it’s free, available 24/7, and only takes a minute or two to get started.”
• You will be distracted. The key is to recognize when your mind wanders and come back to your practice. No need to be frustrated, it happens.
• Aim to increase the length each time. As you get better in your practice, increase the length of time for even more health benefits.
• Take time outs. Overtime, practicing mindfulness can spark changes in the way we handle stress and anxiety. It can also allow you to live in the moment and keep our mind off auto-pilot. You’ll start to recognize these reoccurring moments in your daily life and acknowledge when you need to remove yourself for just a few minutes.
This month, find what works best for you. Spend a few minutes each day appreciating the simple things. Turn off your phone and ground yourself. Take some deep breaths. You can’t accomplish everything you want to if you don’t give your thoughts a rest and make time to accept and release the thoughts that hold you back.
The #Motivated Monday is a yearlong campaign that encourages our community to hit a reset button at the beginning of the week and start fresh with a change you want to make to better your health. Visit Bayhealth's Blog to read more stories like this one.