What Is Mindfulness and Does It Really Work?
At some point most of us have felt overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious from the monotony of day-to-day responsibilities. You do so much for everyone else to make sure their needs are met, but, what about yours? When your needs aren’t met for a prolonged period, life can feel out of control. But, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way. You can take back control of your life with some easy yet effective mindfulness exercises.
According to the authors in the book Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement by Kaufman, Glass, and Pineau, “mindfulness is a way of paying attention that entails intentionally being aware of the present moment and accepting things just as they are without judgement.”
Here are 5 different ways you can practice mindfulness:
1. Deep Breathing (4-Fold Breath)
The quickest way to ease into relaxation is by focusing on your breath. The 4-Fold Breath Technique is as follows:
Breathe in for a count of four seconds
Hold for a count of four seconds
Breathe out slowly for four seconds
Hold with no air for a count of four seconds
Repeat the cycle (5 minutes)
Ease your body with these stress reducing yoga moves either individually or make a sequence out of them. Check out the images along with the exercise description here.
Cat and cow flow
Legs up the wall
3. Mindful Eating
Food never tastes as good when we are feeling stressed out! Eating is something we all need to do to stay alive and how we eat can improve the quality of our life.
SLOW down. It takes 20 minutes for your hypothalamus in the brain and stomach to communicate that you are full.
Chew your food thoroughly
Focus on eating. Turn off the TV, and steer clear from the phone and laptop to minimize external distractions.
Notice your food on the plate. Observe the colors, smell the aroma, and focus on tasting the different flavors.
Practice eating without judgement.
Take a moment to feel gratitude for your food.
4. Guided Imagery
Guided imagery is a method for managing your stress while promoting relaxation. It’s a relaxation technique that involves visualizing positive, peaceful settings like a beautiful beach. Here is a 4-minute video to follow along a guided imagery practice for relaxation.
5. Practice Gratitude
Bring your attention to your “haves” versus your “have-nots.”
Intentionally feel good by focusing on one thing that makes you happy in life.
Thank all the people who have helped you in your life-either mentally or taking the step to actually help them.
Smile more often.
Do someone a favor.
The Takeaway Message
Stress is inevitable, but we don’t have to give into it as these simple techniques practiced over time can produce significant results. Happiness is not found in the destination, while it is created throughout the journey.
Learn more about mindfulness and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by: Ruby Khatchaturian, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern