As the New Year approaches, many of us begin to set goals for 2019. New Year’s Resolutions are powerful because the new year symbolizes new beginnings. Common new year’s resolutions may be getting more exercise, eating healthier, or drinking more water. This year we encourage you to add “Practice Mindfulness” to that list.

When life gets stressful, we tend to focus on what needs to be done or dwell on things that have happened in the past. Mindfulness means paying attention and focusing on the present moment. It also means accepting whatever arises at each moment and being kind and forgiving towards yourself.

It’s important to keep in mind that life can be unpredictable, and stress is normal. Stress often triggers automatic behavior or routine habits. By practicing mindfulness, we can accept difficult feelings as they come and make deliberate choices towards more helpful behavior. Mindfulness can also allow us to have a deeper appreciation for the happy moments and successes in our lives by helping us to stay in the present moment.

Mindfulness can reduce stress, improve your mood, improve sleep, and lower your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. While it may seem very straightforward, it does take practice. Here’s an example of a mindfulness meditation you can practice any time, anywhere:

Simple Mindfulness Meditation

  1. Sit straight up in your chair with your legs firmly planted on the floor.
  2. Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breathing.
  3. Take a few slow, deep breaths.
  4. As you breathe, notice the sensation of cool air passing in, and warm air passing out of your nose.
  5. If your attention wanders, acknowledge the distraction and bring your focus back to your breath.

Practice this for 5 – 10 minutes each day to relieve stress and improve focus.

Sources: American Psychological Association, The Mindfulness Center, HelpGuide. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only.  For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.