Stress is a fact of life, but how we manage our response to stress is a matter of a healthy life. What exactly is mindfulness and how does it impact your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being?
Mindfulness is simply bringing your full awareness, your attention, to the present moment and noticing how you are feeling – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It is noticing what you are thinking, the attitude you are holding in that particular situation. What are you aware of in your surrounding environment?
All your senses come into play in this simply act of mindfulness. Mindfulness is like a check-in with yourself or you might say, like taking your overall “life temperature.” Just the process of doing this “check-in” will bring you into the present moment.
Why does practicing mindfulness make a difference in your life? Studies suggest that mindfulness practices may help you:
- Manage stress
- Cope better with serious illness
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Have greater enthusiasm for life
- Improve your self-esteem
- Be fully present with yourself and other people
- Recognize what you are feeling (emotions)
How can you practice being mindful? That’s seems like a simple question, doesn’t it? The answer, of course, sounds easy…pay attention! But, we all know how the world around us can easily distract us from being fully in the moment. One of the best ways to practice this process is to start noticing your breathing. Breathing is automatic…you don’t notice you are breathing most of the time. Next time you feel overly stressed, fearful, filled with anxiety, doubt, or uncertainty, just pause and start noticing your breathing in and breathing out. Do this for a few moments until you feel calmer and more peaceful. You have not only sent more oxygen to your brain, but also, you have had to focus your attention on slowing down and observing your breathing. That is practicing mindfulness!