We’ve all heard the term mindful, but what is does it mean to be mindful? Mindfulness is defined as a “mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”
Mindfulness is the ability to be present in the moment, aware of where we are and what we are doing and not to be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us. Mindfulness is a quality that all human beings possess and just need to learn to access. Mindfulness allows us to distance ourselves from our thoughts and feelings without labeling them either good or bad.
Any activity can become mindful by focusing on the experience of the present moment. For example, you can mindlessly eat your meal or can practice mindful eating. Look at your food and notice the colors and presentation of the food, smell the food and recognize different the aromas of the food. Notice the different flavors and textures of the food while slowly eating it. You will find your meal more enjoyable and satisfying when you eat mindfully. You may also find you eat less when you start eating mindfully.
How will being mindful benefit me?
As you become more mindful, you will also notice that you will become more centered, happier, and less depressed and this in turn can a direct positive effect on your anxiety.
Mindfulness can help counteract rumination and worrying by focusing our attention on the present moment. Worrying about the future and ruminating on the past are generally maladaptive thinking processes. While we should all plan for the future and learn from the past, spending to much time there can create anxiety and depression.
Mindfulness encourages us to accept our emotions. Being mindful can help us better process our emotions. It also encourages us to see things from different perspectives. It can help us be able to distance ourselves from our immediate situation and look at it from a new perspective. For instance, if your spouse or partner snaps at you, your first response may be to blame yourself and worry that you have done something to upset them. If you are able to distance yourself from your immediate response, you might remember your spouse had a hard day at work and is over-tired and stressed. This new perspective could help alleviate your initial feelings of worry and negative emotions.
Mindfulness has been shown to benefit:
- Body awareness – The ability to notice subtle sensations in the body
- Focused attention – Through better control of attention, it can be easier to focus on a present task, rather than being distracted by worry
- Self-perception – Mindfulness can change one’s perspective of oneself. Two months of mindfulness meditation practices have been shown to increase self-esteem and self-acceptance
- Physical health – Mindfulness has also been shown to help reduce blood pressure and cortisol (the stress hormone) levels
How do I practice being mindful?
It’s easy to get started. No special apparel or equipment needed. Start by focusing on your breath for a few minutes. Feel your chest rise as you breathe in and fall as you exhale. Notice the sensation of your breath as it enters and exits your nose. When your mind wanders, and it will, just return your attention to your breath and the sensations of breathing. Focus on the here and now. Notice the very moment.
If you don’t feel an immediate and complete release of any anxiety, it’s okay. Remember, the benefits of mindfulness require consistent practice.
How does mindfulness work?
Mindfulness is linked to changes in the brain and in the body’s production of hormones and other chemicals that impact our physical health. Brain imaging studies have found brain regions altered in areas important for:
- Body awareness
- Self and emotion regulation
Mindfulness may also:
- Lessen the emotional experience of pain
- Lessen fearful responses
- Induce the relaxation response
What if I’m still anxious?
Life happens. Even if you practice mindfulness regularly you may need a little extra help during times of excessive stress and uncertainty. Eating a healthful diet keeps our brain supplied with the nutrients it needs to function at it’s best. Regular exercise helps to release natural feel-good chemicals in the brain and will contribute to balanced mood, self-esteem and positive feelings.
Natural remedies have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to gently and safely relieve the symptoms of stress and worry, while promoting overall nervous system health.
Native Remedies® offers many different options to support your health during times of stress and worry.
Native Remedies® PureCalm™ is an all-natural herbal supplement to promote calm, relaxed moods and a positive outlook.
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Native Remedies® Triple Complex Calm Tonic™ is an all-natural homeopathic remedy for symptoms of occasional anxiety, stress or nervous tension.
- Relieves uneasiness and worry
- Supports a balanced mood
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While we navigate these uncertain times, it’s natural to feel anxious. Practicing mindfulness can help relieve some of the worry. Eating well and getting regular exercise can also help. There are also natural supplements and remedies that can provide extra support as needed.
Stay safe and stay healthy!