#HealthyHabits March: Mindfulness and Meditation

They say a habit takes 21 days to make and only 3 days to break. We believe that healthy habits can help to create an overall lifestyle that can aid in a long and happy life. We aren't talking about momentous tasks, but simple things you can do to be the healthiest version of yourself. Each month, we will offer a different healthy habit for you to challenge yourself to stick with.

March's Healthy Habit: Meditation and Mindfulness

The stress and pace of everyday life can be daunting at times. Between work, family, friends, sports, keeping up with the house and anything in between- the days can run together and time for any sort of self care seems non existent. While running out to get a mani/pedi or a weekly massage may not be in the cards, there are things we can do to focus our minds. While mindfulness and meditation may may seem unimportant, they can have many health benefits for both your state of mind and body. 

You may have heard of meditation (a state of deep thought, reflection and contemplation- for those that haven't), but you're wondering- what exactly do you mean by mindfulness? Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment- and accepting it without judgement, according to healthguide.org

There are physical, mental and emotional benefits to meditation and mindfulness. Some research suggests that meditation may physically change the brain and body and could potentially help to improve many health problems and promote healthy behaviors. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a 2012 study compared brain images from 50 adults who meditate and 50 adults who don't meditate. Results suggested that people who practiced meditation for many years have more folds on the outer layer of the brain. This process (called gyrification) may increase the brains ability to process information. 

Here are just a few of the many health benefits that mindfulness and meditation can offer:

  • Improved emotional well-being
  • Improved physical health
  • Improved mental health
  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Reduction in negative emotions
  • Increased patience and tolerance

Mediation may also help people manage symptoms of physical conditions such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Sleep problems
  • Tension headaches

Sure, this all sounds great in theory, but we're sure your burning question is: how do I actually make time for mindfulness and mediation? You don't have to take a yoga class (although, we do offer some awesome FREE yoga classes at our branches!) to center yourself and meditate.

Here are some tips on how to be mindful/meditate wherever you go (courtesy of the Mayo Clinic): 

  • Breathe Deeply: Focus your attention on your breathing. Concentrate on feeling and listening to your inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Breathe deeply and slowly. When your attention wanders, gently return your focus to your breathing. 
  • Walk and Meditate: Combining a walk with meditation is an efficient and healthy way to relax. 
  • Repeat a Mantra: You can create you own mantra (such as, 'I am strong') whether religious or secular.
  • Focus on your love and gratitude: In this type of meditation, you focus your attention on a sacred image or being, weaving of love, compassion and gratitude into your thoughts.

Share your Healthy Habits with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram using the hashtags #HealthyHabits #mindfulness #ycbus #destressyourlife