A New Year a time to Invest in a New You: Introduction to Mindfulness
I don’t know how you feel but I am so done with new year’s resolutions to go on crazy diets, detox cleanses, total abstinence from alcohol and exercising in an unmanageable way. How long do these changes last? Surely to improve physical and mental health, one must alter one’s mindset on a sustainable basis. Read this:
Modern day life for many has become task based or a constant state of doing. We set goals and desires, we may or may not achieve, which activate our body’s stress response (the fight or flight system). This constant state of doing can lead to exhaustion – mental and physical. Even when we try to factor in rest, we are still trying to achieve in that moment. Without the state of just being we cannot experience true joy or a state of inner calmness.
As stress is now a part of everyday life, juggling responsibilities between work, family, and home, it becomes overwhelming. The over stimulation of the body’s stress response means hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol continue to remain in your system. This leads to health problems – physical and mental. While we cannot eliminate stress it is our reaction to stress that we can grasp a hold of leading to wellbeing.
Mindfulness is one of the most powerful approaches to achieve this. The concept of mindfulness is remarkably simple, it means paying attention to the present moment. It means awareness of the weather system inside and outside of ourselves, moment by moment. Rather than obsessing about the past or procrastinating about the future, we free up our energy and thoughts and focus on the now moment, the only real moment.
Mindfulness is compassion. So, we free ourselves from self-criticism or judgment. By noticing our thoughts and feelings, it can help us improve our well-being. Knowing how to respond to stress, such as noticing our jaw clenching, our heart rate accelerating or a feeling in our abdomen, we can use it as an internal warning system. We can dampen the stress response and activate the body’s natural relaxation response (rest and digest system), where adrenaline is reduced and happy hormones such as dopamine and serotonin are released.
Often clients say their biggest barrier to self-care is time. The truth is we all have time, but it is where we allocate it to is where we need to negotiate. Self-care, in whatever form, should be incorporated into daily life, such as brushing our teeth, taking a shower, having a meal. Self-care is helpful in treating and promoting good health. Maintaining wellbeing in yourself will have a ripple effect in other areas such as relationships, self-esteem, and confidence.
Practicing mindfulness requires only one thing, to show up. Everybody can practice mindfulness. It does not require a special posture, clothing, place, or props. By awareness of the breath and guided imagery you can relax the body and mind. Take a break from the doing mode, that has become a default way of life and enter the being mode.
Stress and anxiety respond very well to mindfulness, other benefits range from an increased immune function to the experience of being calm and feeling connected. This will in turn impact your relationship with others and yourself. Studies have shown that mindfulness has benefits for many conditions such as:
· High blood pressure (Hypertension)
· Irritable Bowel Syndrome
One study showed that those who practice mindfulness are more likely to engage in positive health behaviours related to health such as exercising, avoiding addictive substances and attending health checks. Scientists have used MRI scans to show that the grey matter in your brain’s amygdala – a region known for its role in stress – can become smaller in those who regularly practice mindfulness.
You do not need to be unwell to start a mindfulness program. Improving your wellbeing can bring out major shifts in your life. With all the advances in modern society we can still feel that time is running out, living in a constant heightened state. So rather than going through life just surviving, experience true joy. Invest in yourself.
To learn more about mindfulness, and how it can improve both your physical and mental health, please contact the practice to schedule a consultation.
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