Many of us stepped into adulthood with the understanding that the early bird gets the worm and those who hustle, win. All around us, this message is affirmed, from motivational seminars to supposedly inspirational billboards.
However, if you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’ve started to sense that achievement is not the enlightening end we’ve been promised. It is certainly fulfilling for a moment and satisfying for a time, but something inside us begs for rest and a moment to breathe. Something stirs for a deeper, more complete gratification.
The concept of wellness flies in the face of our modern modes of operation. It requires a commitment to awareness and action that may not play well in the world of getting ahead. The sort of action required to attain wellness has nothing to do with the world and everything to do with your sense of internal health and happiness. When you take a moment, you just may realize that you are living in a chronic state of hurry up and wait.
Or perhaps you are constantly certain that you’re forgetting something critical. For a while, I found myself waking in the night to jot down something I simply couldn’t forget to do the next day. In the morning I was often surprised at these notes because what I thought was so urgent was actually barely worth mentioning at all.
The impact of living like this is anything but positive. Not only does it tax our sense of peace and tranquility, it impacts our physical health as well. When we are stressed, our bodies react by reducing our immunity, increasing our cortisol levels, increasing our blood pressure, creating muscle tension that can lead to injury and many other ailments.
As the mind/body connection has become more understood, the practice of mindfulness has grown in popularity. In fact, it seems to be everywhere these days. Often linked with yoga or meditation, mindfulness is largely misunderstood by the general public. In reality, mindfulness is incredibly versatile and adaptable.
When we are mindful, we cultivate focused awareness on the present moment. We pay attention to our thoughts and feelings, acknowledging them but never judging them. We listen to our bodies; we pay attention to our physical position in the world. The sounds and movements around us are noticed and acknowledged before we again bring our focus inward.
The hope behind a mindfulness practice is that by training our minds to attain this level of focused awareness, we gain a level of control over stress, worry, thoughts, and feelings. We filter them through an awareness of their direct impact on our bodies, emotions, and thoughts. By doing so, they are acknowledged and lose their power to control or interfere in our behaviors or emotions.
There is no question that the consequences of mental and emotional wellness are holistic and far-reaching. Studies have confirmed that the healthier we are in these areas, the better our relationships, the longer our lives, the sharper our memories, and the more fulfilling our relationships. Unsurprisingly, mindfulness yields these same benefits.
The practice of mindfulness is everywhere these days. While it is often linked with meditation, the truth is mindfulness is simply the practice of focused awareness. This can be accessed at any time in any location.
A Mindful Approach to Diet
Unfortunately, unhealthy food is often one of our most significant areas of stress. It contributes to an overall decrease in your physical health and wellness when you eat the wrong foods. However, by taking a more mindful approach, taking control over your food choices is finally within the realm of possibility.
Making the choice to buy and eat nutrient-dense, minimally processed, organic foods are the best choice for your overall health and wellness. These foods will provide the nutritional building blocks your body needs to thrive on a cellular level.
Focusing on the true needs of your body will help you to separate your emotional needs from your physical and nutritional needs. Taking time to deep breath before eating, chew your foods completely, and bring awareness to taste, texture and satiety will increase your ability to get true satisfaction from your diet.
A Mindful Approach to Work
For good reason, employers are implementing mindfulness as part of their employee wellness programs. When people are less distracted and stressed, they are also more productive. However, even if your employer isn’t on the mindfulness train, you can still incorporate mindfulness into your workday.
One of the wonderful things about mindfulness is that it fits into whatever space you have available in a day. If you give a few minutes of your lunch break to deep breathing and mindfulness, you may find that your entire day feels more manageable and less stressful.
A Mindful Approach to Exercise
Our bodies are amazing in their complex design. The ways in which every single part works with every other part is beautiful and worth noticing and appreciating. When it comes to exercise, a mindful focus can drastically alter the effect of our workout on our body simply by focusing our thoughts and emotions on the actions of our bodies.
As you begin your workout, focus on the warming of your body, the increase of your heart rate. Notice the stretch of your muscles and when the aches come, acknowledge them. This state of presence in your workout routine will increase your appreciation for all your body can do. Gratitude for your body is one more beautiful way to enhance your wellness.
A Mindful Approach to Sleep
Sleep is one of our most basic and necessary functions, and yet many of us either aren’t getting a sufficient total number of hours or the quality of our sleep is not what it should be. Mindfulness, however, has been known to positively impact both our ability to fall asleep and the quality of our rest.
By drawing attention to our habits as we wind down, we become aware of any patterns that interfere with our ability to ease into a state that signals our body that it is time to rest. As we close our eyes and stretch out in bed, we are able to bring our awareness to our internal world and to the state of our body at the end of the day. As we narrow our focus, we eliminate our habit of a over stimulated mind that won’t turn off.
Embracing the principle of wellness is counter-cultural, but it is one of the most important things we can do for our health and happiness. Mindfulness is its perfect partner, enabling us to pause and take in each moment as it comes, to fully accept ourselves, both externally and internally.
Are you familiar with mindfulness? How has it impacted your overall wellness? Leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts on this subject. Join our holistic community by signing up for our email updates, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, join us on Instagram, and pin with us on Pinterest to get all the latest healthy recipes, health tips, event notifications, and information on increasing your energy, strength, and immunity with whole foods and holistic lifestyle solutions.
Guest Writer Bio: Faith is a freelance writer for eHealth Informer and specializes in exploring the realms of mental health and personal happiness. As a busy mother, Faith recognizes that wellness must weave itself into daily life and she enjoys sharing manageable ways to accomplish this.