This past year has been challenging. We have posted many blogs encouraging us to take care of ourselves especially our mental health. One of the strategies that comes up a lot is mindfulness. But what is mindfulness and how does it help us?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary 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”
This means that we are paying attention to what is happening to ourselves right now – our present thoughts, feelings and experiences but we are not judging or analyzing them, we are just accepting them.
How does mindfulness help us?
Most of us spend a lot of our time not being mindful. We skip from one thought to another, daydream, think a lot about the past, worry about the future and we constantly analyze and criticize ourselves. None of these make us feel very good.
Research shows that being mindful actually makes changes in our brain which help us by:
- Decreasing negative thinking and rumination (thinking about something over and over again)
- Increasing attention to the present
- Improving concentration and memory
- Decreasing anxiety
- Reducing stress
- Increasing relaxation and quality of sleep
Being mindful takes practice. It can be hard to stop our brains from ruminating and worrying.
Tips to be more mindful:
- Be aware of your breath. Start by taking 3 deep breaths.
- Notice what is happening right now – what do you see, hear, smell, feel, taste. Do this when you are walking, driving, eating, exercising, waiting in line at the grocery store…
- Listen without judgement.
- Enjoy nature. Take time to be outside and notice all the beauty that can be found in nature.
- Start your day with a positive thought.
- Accept yourself. Treat yourself the same way you would treat your best friend.
- Find a mindfulness app that works for you.
I have made it a goal for 2021 to try to be more mindful. I am planning to start each day with 10 minutes of yoga or stretching and to use deep breathing when I am feeling stressed or having trouble sleeping. I would love to hear about how you practice being mindful and how it helps you. Leave a comment below.
For more information:
- Connect with a Public Health Nurse via eChat or call 416-338-7600
- Coping with stress and anxiety during & after pregnancy