A Mindful March
Mindfulness. We’ve heard of this term and of some of the buzz surrounding it, but what does mindfulness really mean? And, how can we use it to improve our health?
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at UMass Medical Center...
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way;
On purpose,in the present moment, andnonjudgmentally.”
Being mindful means being curious about our health conditions instead of judgmental. If you are in pain, try not to focus on how awful everything is. Instead, think about what your body is trying to communicate to you in the moment.
Mindfulness also teaches us to let go of any expectations and to just be accepting and loving of what is happening in the present. Instead of feeling the frustration of a long rehabilitation program, work with your body. Engage and appreciate your body, as it is, as you strengthen it.
Add-in one of these reflective focuses each day and notice the path to a more balanced self open up:
1. Practice breathing. When we are overcome with stress or pain, our brains often jump to such thoughts as, “I can’t take this. This is awful.” Often, we are not fully breathing but are taking shortened, panic breaths. Instead, pause for a moment and take a few, full diaphragmatic (belly) breaths and focus only on your breath, dismissing any negative thoughts that pass through your mind. Try breathing in through your belly to a count of three and then exhale for twice as long.
2. Do a body scan. Bring non-judging attention to all parts of your body, from head to toes. Check in with how each body part is feeling, acknowledge and then move on. With practice, you will increase your body-mind connection and have better control over how you are feeling and how to manage your pain.
3. Focus, really focus, on the task at hand. Whether you are making dinner, playing with your kids, or punching numbers at work, really pay attention to what you are doing. As a culture, we are trained and often praised to multitask, so much so, that we forget how to turn off and "just be” with the single, most important task of the moment. By focusing in on sometimes seemingly dull, everyday activities, you will train your brain to be more aware and be better able to manage stress and pain.
Pick one or more of the above tips to add-in to your daily routine and see your efficiency in all areas of your life improve.
Did you know that ProEx is hosting a MARATHON OF HEALTHY HABITS CHALLENGE beginning on March 20th which will include mindfulness?
Ask your physical therapist or download a Marathon of Healthy Habits Challenge Log form from our website and join our excited ProEx community.