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What It Is and Why We Need To Practice It!
Have you ever started to eat just a few potato chips while watching television or playing video games and then reach into the bottom of the bag and ask yourself, "How did I eat the whole bag?" You were most likely distracted by the television or video game and unaware of all the chips you were eating. Basically, you were on autopilot. You then become disappointed in yourself for eating the whole bag. Now what? Sounds like you could use a little MINDFULNESS.
MINDFULNESS is a mental state. You practice mindfulness when you focus on your awareness of the PRESENT MOMENT. You are aware of your thoughts, feelings, emotions or experiences on a moment to moment basis. And, you observe your present thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. You pay attention on purpose to the present moment!
“Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Practicing mindfulness can get you back on track so that you can break the habit of being on autopilot, control your food triggers and unwanted behaviors. Mindfulness practices can help you to increase your ability to regulate emotions, decrease stress, anxiety and depression. Who wouldn't want that!
TRY THIS: Fill a clear jar with water and add a spoonful or so of glitter glue. What happens when you shake the jar? The glitter swirls.
Imagine that the glitter is like your thoughts when you are stressed or upset. See how the glitter/your thoughts whirl around and make it difficult to see clearly? Like the swirling glitter, emotions can cloud your thoughts. That is why it is so easy to make bad choices or decisions when you are upset-because you are not thinking clearly.
Stop shaking the jar for a few moments. See how the glitter starts to settle and the water clears? Your mind works the same way. When you are calm for a little while, your thoughts start to settle and you start to see things more clearly. You can see and then act on the present moment with a clear head.
Try a MINDFULNESS WALK. When you are feeling some emotion like stress or anger, try a mindfulness walk to bring you back to a state of awareness, focus, and grounding in the present. While walking, focus on using all your senses (sight, smell, taste, sound) to notice all the different kind of trees, flowers, birds and colors encountered along the way. This forces you to focus back on the present moment. This allows you to then consider other more clear options to work out a problem (like snacking or overeating), identify your triggers, and develop better plans and solutions to your problem.
EAT MINDFULLY. You might stuff food into your mouth without paying any attention to what or how much you are eating or whether you feel full. Mindful people make a practice of listening to their bodies. Mindful eating is about taking your time, paying attention to the tastes and sensations, focusing on the act of eating and eating-related decisions. Mindful eating means simply eating or drinking while being aware IN THE MOMENT of each bite or sip. When I am aware in the moment of my actions, I again can make more reasoned decisions this time about what and how much I will eat.
Here are other mindful tips:
- Set a daily routine for practicing mindfulness to make sure you always get around to it every day. The more you practice, the more it will become a habit.
- Practice quiet time every day. No video games, television, or cell phones. Just you and your mind - alone together.
BEING AWARE IN THE MOMENT - IT'S A BEAUTIFUL THING!!!
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healthcare provider if these tips are right for you and please read our disclaimer.