Monday, December 31, 2018

The 1 Thing That Could Lead to a Healthier, Happier 2019

I distinctly remember one vacation where I sat alone on a beach, with only some birds for company. I watched the waves go in and out, and I did nothing more than just feel my breathing. I probably sat there for an hour or more -- it felt like one of the most peaceful places on earth and I was completely relaxed.

I now recognize I was practicing mindfulness, although I had no idea at the time. You might think this is the part of the story where I reveal that I continued to practice mindfulness. Nope. Didn't happen. I went back to a stressful job in a stressful city with too much anxiety in my life.

I'm obviously older and wiser now, and while I'd like to say I practice mindfulness on a regular basis, it is still difficult for me. My mind immediately wanders to all the things I could -- and should -- be doing instead of just being aware that I'm breathing.

That's why I like this suggestion from mental health expert Koorosh Rassekh: Choose something you already do every day, and then set an intention around that particular practice.

He explains that he had a client who loved making pour-over coffee every morning, so he established a mindfulness practice around that activity. He focused on the physical sensations of the smell of the coffee, the warmth of the pot on his hands, the sound it made as it splashed into his cup.

So, instead of turning on the TV or talking to Alexa or checking his phone, he became more aware of his inner self and what he was feeling emotionally.

The other thing I like about Rassekh's advice is that he lets people like me off the hook: It's OK to not jump into mindfulness with enthusiasm every day.

"When mindfulness is hard or difficult for us, that doesn't mean it is not working. Rather, it just worked by letting you know that you are particularly distracted right now or you are trying to solve something, or some memory is trying to reconcile," he says. "How great to be connected with that inner process as we go through the day rather than wonder why we keep bumping our head or are so quick to anger! We can be mindful that we are struggling to be mindful. This in and of itself is mindfulness."

As we enter another year of working hard, trying to be productive, attempting to meet all our career goals while balancing our private-life demands, it may be time to start mindfulness. Try to stop listening to the shower radio and just be mindful when you're washing your hair. Instead of watching YouTube videos while eating lunch, try practicing mindfulness as you eat that sandwich.

Health experts say that mindfulness can help with stress and insomnia and lead to a healthier diet and better memory.

Maybe this is the one New Year's resolution that will make the biggest difference in your health and happiness this year?

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