Most of us hear the word “mindfulness” and instantly think of the image on this post. Who has time to sit around meditating when there are a million things waiting to be checked off of our to-do lists?! Well, good news.. while meditating is a wonderful tool for decreasing anxiety and stress (and even 10 minutes a day can make a difference) there are other ways to practice mindfulness. Especially when we are talking about making changes to our diets and lifestyles. This is about being aware of what is happening around us in the present moment. It’s about paying attention to what we are doing and the thoughts and feelings we are experiencing. Really observing ourselves as though we are watching from a distance. The key to being mindful is letting go of all our preconceived labels and judgments. Remaining somewhat indifferent, in that our emotions are neither good or bad, they merely exist. Acknowledging them and letting them go. Checking into our senses: what do we see, hear, smell, taste, feel? Pausing and spending a few moments with all of these sensations.
You might be wondering what this type of practice has to do with making changes. Humans tend to be creatures of habit and most of us have fairly consistent daily routines. It can be really easy to live our lives on autopilot. Oftentimes, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. This year has been especially unpredictable and it is only natural to crave familiar patterns when everything feels so unstable. Mindfulness helps us notice when we are living on autopilot. Maybe you grab a bag of chips every night and eat them while binge-watching your favorite show. Or perhaps you eat an entire pint of ice cream when you’re feeling stressed. Being mindful can help us to become aware of what we are doing and why we are doing it. Rather than reacting emotionally and resorting to our usual habits, we take a moment to think about it and decide if we are making the best choice. This can help tremendously when we are trying to stick to a goal, such as eating healthier.
Mindfulness also helps us to check in with our bodies before eating to make sure we are actually hungry and not just eating out of boredom or heightened emotions. It is best to eat when we are calm, sitting, and not distracted. This not only helps to avoid overeating, as we are more in tune with hunger and satiety cues, but it also helps our bodies to properly digest the food and therefore absorb all of the nutrients. Focus on each bite, chewing thoroughly, and savoring the flavors and textures. For even better digestion, I recommend drinking water thirty minutes before and thirty minutes after meals, as to not dilute our digestive juices.
I like to use mindfulness when it comes to skincare too. It helps us to become more appreciative of the skin we are in and teaches us to be kinder to ourselves. We can eat healthy and use the best skincare everyday and that will still only go so far when it comes to achieving clear, glowing, skin. While there are many factors that affect our complexion, one thing that often gets overlooked is our attitudes about our skin. How we see ourselves and how we think about ourselves can both play a large part in the clarity of our skin. Negative emotions lead to stress, which then leads to an increased level of inflammation in our bodies. This inflammation can cause breakouts, redness, and sensitivities. I personally understand the feelings and emotions that can come from dealing with skin issues. However, I noticed such a difference when I stopped the negative self-talk and learned to accept the fluctuations that my skin goes through. Rather than feeling like there was nothing I could do, I became proactive in learning how to manage those fluctuations through diet, natural skincare, and stress reducing techniques. Practicing mindfulness helped me to pause, observe, and shift my perspective so that I could create the changes that I needed to make in order to achieve my goals.
If there is something in your life that you want to change and you’re not sure how to begin, try practicing a little mindfulness. There is no time like the present moment. 😊
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Dunn, C., Haubenreiser, M., Johnson, M., Nordby, K., Aggarwal, S., Myer, S., & Thomas, C. (2018). Mindfulness Approaches and Weight Loss, Weight Maintenance, and Weight Regain. Current obesity reports, 7(1), 37–49. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13679-018-0299-6
Montgomery, K., Norman, P., Messenger, A. G., & Thompson, A. R. (2016). The importance of mindfulness in psychosocial distress and quality of life in dermatology patients. The British journal of dermatology, 175(5), 930–936. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjd.14719