Written by Chrissy McClain MA, NCC, LAPC
Life is non-stop. We are constantly on the go and ready to move on to the next task. Multitasking isn’t a privilege, but a necessity. My guess is that most days, when you wake up the first thing you do is reach for your phone. From that point forward, you are consistently stimulated until that night when it is time to fall asleep. The problem with this rush is that you may find yourself losing your connection with the present moment – missing out on what you are doing and how you are feeling.
The art of mindfulness is, essentially, paying attention on purpose. Focusing attention on the present moment, observing thoughts, feelings, realities, and then accepting life as it is, in that moment, without judgment. There are now, more than ever, studies examining the benefits of mindfulness. The American Psychological Association (www.apa.org) lists more than 7 researched benefits of practicing mindfulness.
- Less Over-thinking. Studies show that people who are practicing mindfulness daily have seen decreases in symptoms of depression and anxiety. Those practicing mindfulness tend to have a clear mind – retaining more information and maintaining attention.
- Less Stress. Meditating has been shown to shift peoples way of thinking in a way that allow them to process events in a calmer way.
- Better Memory. Findings say that working memory capacity is increased in those individuals practicing mindful meditation exercises regularly.
- As you might imagine, taking time away from the constant stimulation of the day and replacing it with a mindfulness exercise has been directly related to increased attention spans.
- Stable Emotions. Regularly practiced mindfulness activities help people to disengage from upsetting situations and events in a healthy way.
- Flexible Thinking. Meditation activates the brain, which causes more adaptive responses to stressful situations.
- Healthy Relationships. All of these benefits of mindfulness help individuals respond more positively to stresses and conflicts within a relationship. These exercises are also able to help develop self- insight, which can lead to affective conflict resolution and overall positivity.
Now, you may be thinking that you simply do not have time to “practice mindfulness”, and this is why I am providing some easy ways to incorporate this practice into your daily life.
- Deep Breathing- Begin your day with 5 minutes of silence and deep breathing (in through your nose and out through your mouth)
- Download an app- (example: Headspace)
- Youtube meditations- (example: TheHonestGuys)
- Use your senses- Take a few minutes and engage with your 5 senses…notice everything that you can taste, smell, see, hear, and touch in that moment
- Body scan-(example: https://youtu.be/obYJRmgrqOU)
- Do something that is out of your normal routine (example: drive a new way to work or school)
Getting in the habit of practicing mindfulness may not come naturally, but stick with it and you will see results!