Maybe you’ve heard of mindfulness – that active, open state of attention that places you completely in the present. When you are in a state of mindfulness, you simply observe your feelings and thoughts from a distance without passing judgement on yourself. You live completely in the moment, and are far more focused on your daily experiences. There is an intense connection between mindfulness and good health.
Stress has a negative effect on your health. It can increase your blood pressure, increase your likelihood of overeating, and contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Stress can lead to nagging headaches, frequent insomnia, and decreased productivity. Muscle tension, fatigue, and indigestion are some additional problems associated with stress.
When you embrace mindfulness, you’ll find it is far easier to tolerate, understand, and deal with stressors in a healthy way. Mindfulness will help you to pause, breathe, and make the healthiest possible decisions for yourself, even in the face of stress and negativity.
With mindfulness comes an increase in self-awareness. The more often you intentionally practice mindfulness, the greater your sense of self-awareness will be, and the more tuned in to your body you will be. You may notice that muscle tension is starting to take hold, for example, before it leads to a stiff neck and a headache. You will notice that you are feeling full and you’ll be less likely to overeat.
Greater Compassion Toward Yourself
Have you ever noticed that people are often their own worst enemies? When you cultivate mindfulness and simply observe the way that you respond to environmental stressors, societal influences, and other stimuli, you will be less likely to blame yourself for negative outcomes like overeating, binge-watching your favorite TV shows, or staying in bed late. You’ll also feel more like conquering these problems, as you will make a strong connection between cause and effect. You’ll recognize that changes are up to you, and you’ll feel empowered to make them.
How to Be More Mindful
Simple breathing exercises can help you become more mindful and tune you in to how your body, mind, and spirit are responding to things inside and outside yourself. Breathe in deeply, and feel the air moving from outside your body to inside your lungs. As you breathe out, feel the way your abdomen drops. Notice your lungs emptying. Check in with how you’re feeling as you do this. What emotions are you experiencing? Do you have discomfort anywhere in your body? How is your stress level?
After observing, take any necessary action. If you feel a little thirsty, have a drink of water. If you are starting to feel hungry, enjoy a small, healthy snack. If your muscles feel tight from sitting in the same position for a while, treat your body to a little stretching session. Make your responses positive and healthy, always.
Begin by exercising mindfulness just three times daily, and gradually increase to once hourly. Soon, the practice of mindfulness will be an ingrained habit, and you will check in with yourself frequently. Over time, you’ll notice that a sense of peace and happiness takes over, as if you’ve detoxed your mind. Perhaps best of all, your stress level will drop, and you’ll become far healthier as a result.