Do you tend to react or respond to the unanticipated stressors in your life? In our hustle-bustle lifestyle here in Northern Virginia, we tend to have a lot thrown at us. We often feel the need to react in stressful situations. Developing a mindfulness practice will help you be the responsive wellness wonder and not someone who tends to react to the “curveballs.”
A regular mindfulness practice leads to so many benefits, including achieving that holistic health, wellness, and fitness you’ve always wanted. In my Concierge Wellness and Corporate Wellness programs, my mindfulness practice helps clients shrink their stress and their waistline. (Click here to book a Corporate Wellness workshop.)
So, what exactly is mindfulness?
While there are many definitions of mindfulness, I’d say the simplest way to define it is to be fully present, aware of where we are, what we are doing and feeling, and not overly reactive or confused by what we are seeing and perceiving. It is just “taking it all in.” Mindfulness means conserving a moment-by-moment awareness of our feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and the surrounding context through a sensitive, nurturing lens. When we are feeling stressed, we become carbohydrate dependent and crave foods that will give us that quick “burst” of energy.
Not only do we crave foods that detract from our wellness, when we eat while stressed or not mindfully, we tend to eat more – period. When we practice mindfulness, we are “calming the brain” and warding off stress, anxiety, worry – in the moment. We are also building it up a “reserve” for when we most need it – when stress unexpectedly happens. Decreasing your stress will help you sleep better, react less and respond more, lose weight, make better decisions, and live a much more contented life. Trust me!
I know you want to know about the weight loss part. The practice of mindful eating can hugely change our ability to recognize hunger over craving, a key component of weight gain. Check out my corporate wellness program for more information on how to help your team recognize the difference here.
I’ve learned the past and the future briefly leave your thoughts. You focus just on the now. Here are 15 Research-based benefits of mindfulness:
- Reduces stress
- Improves mental focus and ability to concentrate
- Lowers anxiety levels and lessens depression
- Increases feelings of well-being
- Lessens emotional reactions to situations
- Promotes greater clarity
- Improves behavior control and modification
- Lowers reaction to stressors
- Increases your awareness
- Gives you a deeper connection to the circumstance or person
- Positively impacts how you respond to crisis
- Calms and quiets the busy mind
- Sharpens job performance and productivity
- Can lead to weight loss simply by tapping into how hungry you really are
- Mitigates a constant feeling of overwhelm and busyness
In a landmark study conducted by the insurance company Aetna, a leader in mindfulness for its employees, they found a mindfulness practice reduces stress, improves sleep, and allows you to better manage physical pain. And it’s free! Being mindful will help you take control of your day and your life and will also give you the freedom to make the choices that will lead to greater health, wellness, and contentedness. Now that you know what mindfulness is and its many benefits, you may be wondering how you can start your own practice.
Below are my top 5 proven strategies that I teach to my Concierge and Corporate clients:
Take purposeful pauses. Step back and “catch the moment.” A brief pause allows you to interrupt the ”autopilot” mode we all allow to become a habit and become aware of the present moment. It helps us gain perspective about the “heart racing” we sadly experience every day.
Deliberate breathing. Commit to one mindful breath each day. That equals 365/year!
Learn how to meditate. There are a bunch of ways to meditate. My job as a wellness expert is simply this: do it. Tons of research teaches us it is medicine for the body, the brain, and your life.
Practice Visualization. Focus on something beautiful, a moment in your life that brings you joy or imagine the circumstance you are in – possibly worried about – is totally your choice and in your favor. See everything about the situation and “feel” what you visualize. This is actually calming the brain.
Mindful eating. Sit, focus on the act of simply eating and nourishing your body for the time you are eating. Leave the devices aside.
Mindfulness played a huge role in my own journey from stressed-out-to-the-max Hill staffer, corporate executive, personal trainer to the wellness-centric personality I have now. You, too, can achieve happiness, contentedness and feel as purposeful as possible, and it can start today.
Just one minute or even one breath can make a HUGE difference in your wellness!
If you are interested in exploring ways I can help you or your team gain stress resilience and learn even more Mindfulness tips, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our programs at here.