Mindfulness is an important factor in our health

It is well documented that mindfulness can positively affect our health….Why? How do we become more mindful?

If you were to Google the term ‘Mindfulness’ you would see many references to meditation. While meditation is a very effective way of becoming more mindful, it is just a tool. Mindfulness is a focusing of one’s attention, and how you achieve that may be very different from one person to the next.

Mindfulness as defined by modern psychology means to “bring one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.” Why is that so important to our health? Nine out of 10 adults suffer from at least one chronic disease, and most chronic diseases can be improved with positive behavior changes. Now think about mindfulness as having an acute awareness of the present, and it is a bit easier to see how it can be used to treat stress, anxiety, and disordered eating. For example, if we all paid closer attention to what we were putting in our mouth as we sit in front of a computer typing (I promise I’m only drinking water while writing this!) think of the number of calories and thereby pounds we would save ourselves. Or, if rather than letting our mind race all night about the things we failed to accomplish, we performed a five-minute breathing activity to clear our heads, just think of the sleep you could have!

So how do we become more mindful? As I said before, there are many tools and techniques that can help you to start to become more mindful or aware. Everyone is different, so you may need to try different things to see what works for you.

Here are a few suggested activities you may want to try:

• Breathing
• Meditation
• Yoga or Stretching
• Time Outs before new activities
• Spend time in nature
• Listening to quiet instrumental music
• Journaling
• Don’t do other things while you are eating

Ultimately, being mindful comes back to being purposeful about everything you do. Don’t let your autopilot direct your actions. Be present in your life at every moment and notice the beauty, joy and extraordinary things that are all around you.

About the author:


Mary Atkinson, RD
Director of Wellness
Tucson Medical Center

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