Don’t run away at the sight of this blog post title! Yes, I’m going to talk about mindfulness and things might get a little zen, but don’t worry… I’m not gonna tell you that you have to start meditating to PR all your lifts or start burning incense and chanting around your house to get rock hard abs! Instead this post is going to take an honest look at mindfulness and why you might want to consider gradually incorporating more of it into your life.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the process of focusing your awareness on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. It just means being fully present exactly where you are without being overly reactive or judging, but instead accepting and recognizing what’s going on with you.
Mindfulness comes in many forms and can look different for everyone.
Why Should I Care About Mindfulness?
Mindfulness can improve overall well being. Mindfulness is a way to check in with ourselves. It allows us to take a pause and explore how we are feeling and why we might be feeling that way mentally, physically, and emotionally. Practicing mindfulness can help us feel happier, more satisfied, and increase our focus.
Mindfulness can decrease stress, frustration, and aggression. Mindfulness is a state of mind that can allow us to step back so that we can thoughtfully respond to situations instead of emotionally reacting to them. Mindfulness has even allowed people to decrease their blood pressure and improve their sleep.
Still not convinced? Working Against Gravity describes the normal human response process kind of like this… Let’s say that you’re on your way to work and someone knocks into… you drop your coffee all over the sidewalk. You think “WOW what a jerk! Ugh, this is just great, I can see how this day is going to go.” You’re flustered, upset about your coffee, and maybe a little angry. These emotions get you seeking comfort in the form of an extra donut from the breakroom or a lunchtime McDonalds run. Your comfort seeking behavior gets you feeling bad about not sticking to your healthy eating, your eating for that day is ruined so you pig out on junk foods the rest of the day and vow to start fresh tomorrow.
Now it’s not always that extreme or that same scenario, but I guarantee we’ve all been guilty of a similar process. Mindfulness can give us just the right amount of pause so that we can prevent reactive behaviors like this!
How Can I Be More Mindful?
Focus on your breath. This is probably the easiest way to focus your attention and be more mindful. Stop, relax your body, and focus on your natural breath in and out. You can listen to soothing music, sit in silence, or focus on the sounds that are around you. Counted breathing is also a great technique.
Mindful Eating. Mindful eating is a way to get back to enjoying and appreciating our food. It can help us lose weight or even just become tuned in to our bodies hunger signals. Easy ways to start eating more mindfully include…
Slowing down & sitting down. Sit down at a table to eat and chew your food. Try not to inhale your lunch, but instead try to enjoy each bite.
Get rid of distractions. Put down the phone and turn off the tv. Take a break from your work and focus on the food and who you’re with.
Listen to your body before, during, and after eating. When you’re about to eat, think to yourself “am I hungry?” We eat for a lot of reasons and many of them have nothing to do with being hungry. Are you bored, upset, happy, are you eating because of the time on the clock, or because your friends are eating? It can be okay to eat for reasons other than hunger, but can you identify your reason and recognize hunger? Same goes for while your eating. Try to stop when you’re 80% full. Finally, think about how you feel after you eat. Do you feel energized, do you feel sluggish, do you feel bloated?? Which foods make you feel better and which don’t?
Lose the labels. I’m not talking nutrition labels… I’m talking about when we label foods as good or bad. Labeling foods as “bad” can make us feel bad when we eat them and lead to guilt and anxiety. Focus on positive messages in regards to food, not negative ones.
Appreciate your food. Think about where your food came from, how it was grown or made, the care that someone put into what you’re about to eat. Try to eat foods that you can feel good about eating and improve your overall health.
Mindful Recovery (Body Scan). During a body scan, you do a literal “scan” of your body from one end to the other, focusing on each body part and recognizing and attempting to release tension in each as you move along. This can be a really good technique for those of us who hold tension in certain spots or tend to ignore body soreness. Becoming more aware of what our bodies are physically feeling can help us recover smarter.
Apps. There are tons of mindfulness apps out there that can lead you through mindfulness meditation or breath work like Headspace, Calm, and 10% Happier!
We challenge you guys to give mindfulness a try!
More mindfulness reading: