Godfrey & Kahn Wellness
According to mindful.org “mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” The good thing is we all possess the ability to be mindful.
Mindfulness has been shown to improve well-being, physical health, and mental health. Please see the Harvard Health HelpGuide to learn more about mindfulness techniques and exercises, and the benefits of being mindful.
To earn points this week, practice being mindful and add 5 minutes to the mindfulness/meditation activity tracker each time.
Below are some suggestions for practicing mindfulness. Feel free to personalize and try other mindfulness practices.
Practice mindful eating
- Let your body catch up with your brain…slow down (chew each bite at least 20 times) and stop when full.
- Recognize your personal hunger signals. Ask is if you are responding to an emotional want or what your body needs.
- Plan a meal with a specific time to eat while sitting down.
- Consider where your food comes from.
- No distractions such as screens/electronics
Be aware of your environment
- Cloud watch
- Go for a mindful walk by noticing and acknowledging as many different colors, shapes, or plant species you can find.
- Notice the weather. Can you feel sunshine on your face? Is there rain on the windows? Etc.
- Be aware of the moment as you climb in bed at night. Is it comfortable? Warm? Relaxing? Etc
- Spend some time near water and watch it.
- Look around you and list 10 things you see.
- Complete a body scan
- Be mindful of your breath. How does it sound? Can you feel your diaphragm move?
- Acceptance of thoughts and feelings
- Acceptance of anxiety or stress
- Mindful listening- listen to a podcast on mindfulness
- Self-compassion and acceptance
Research suggests expressing gratitude boosts our personal health, improves our relationships, and spreads happiness.
The word gratitude comes from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness or grateful. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what we receive…tangible or intangible. When we acknowledge the goodness in life, we are able to connect to something larger than ourselves- whether to other people, nature or a high power. Regardless of your current level of gratitude, it can be cultivated.
Benefits of Gratitude
- Opens the door to more relationships
- Improves physical health
- Improves psychological health
- Enhances empathy and reduces aggression
- Helps you sleep better
- Increases mental strength
- Improves self-esteem
Click here to read more about the benefits of gratitude.
Click here to learn more about the neuroscience behind gratitude.
Here are ways to earn extra points this week:
Given the benefits of gratitude for your brain and health, it’s well worth taking the time to focus on cultivating this emotion and trait in your life. Ready to earn extra points? Try one of these practices:
- Keep a gratitude journal. Keep a small book on your bedside table and each evening write three things you were grateful for that day. You could also pop one in a desk drawer at work for a positive beginning to your day.
- Write a gratitude letter to a past mentor or teacher. It doesn’t matter if you are still in contact with the person you choose—they can be alive or no longer living. Write a letter, preferably by hand on nice paper, explaining what they did, how it affected you, how you felt, and why it is so important to you still. You can save it or send it.
- Count how many things you can find to be grateful for in each room of your home. See just how many things your kitchen has (like ice, running water, a beautiful view, sharp knives, etc.) that you can celebrate.
- Listen to a guided gratitude meditation, such as this one led by Deepak Chopra. You can also find guided meditations on apps such as Insight Timer, Calm, and Ten Percent Happier.
- Start business meetings with a “what went well” one-sentence reflection. When you prime your team by reviewing their recent accomplishments, it helps you to connect and keep going forward with enthusiasm.
- Savor receiving thanks. Notice if you are better at thanking than you are at being thanked (this applies to a lot of people). Work on receiving thanks with grace.
- Take a daily photo of something you are grateful for and post to Instagram or Facebook, tagging it with #365project.
- Try a gratitude jar or tree. Take a decorative mason jar or a small wooden tree and place it someplace you will see it every day, like the foyer or your kitchen counter. On a regular basis (daily or weekly) take a piece of paper and write: “I’m thankful for ______ today because ______.” Use recycled paint samples to add a splash of color. Then drop them in the jar or clip them to the tree. If you are feeling low, read your blessings to yourself.
** please log each act of gratitude under activities as 5 minutes of mindfulness/mediation.
Social connectivity refers to the feeling of belonging to a group and feeling close to other people. Research suggests that as social creatures, humans biologically need face-to-face contact. Furthermore, social connections have been shown to improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The National Council for Behavioral Health reports many benefits to having strong social ties including:
- Dramatically lower rates of disease and premature death. Those who lacked supportive relationships had a fourfold increased risk of dying six months after open heart surgery.
- Improve our long-term happiness. People’s happiness correlates to the happiness of others with whom they are connected – and people who are surrounded by happy people are more likely to be happy in the future.
- Decrease stress during major life transitions. Higher levels of happiness and optimism were associated with lower levels of stress and greater increases in perceived social support during life transitions.
- Support recovery. One study showed that higher scores on the Recovery Assessment Scale were related to both social support as well as engagement in activities.
Check out this article in Greater Good magazine, published by the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley, to learn more about why we are so wired to connect.
To earn extra points this week practice connectivity. Need some ideas? Here are 41 ways to cultivate connection both on and offline. Remember to log as 5 minutes of mindfulness/meditation.
Many people do not realize the extent to which our work and home environments affect our ability to find peace, rest, and energy. According to UW Health psychologist Shilagh Mirgain, “your home and work environment are an important influence on your sense of well-being.” You spend most of your time in these places, so it is only natural to be impacted by these environments. Research suggests your home and work environment can:
- Influence your mood. For example, research studies reveal that rooms with bright light, both natural and artificial, can improve depression and anxiety.
- Impact your behavior and motivation to act. For example, a messy hall with shoes, bags, and other stuff may invite you to drop what you are carrying right there, whereas a clean entry and adequate storage will encourage you to take the time to put the item away.
- Facilitate or discourage interactions in your family and with guests. For example, an inviting space with comfortable chairs can encourage people to sit and chat.
- Create or reduce stress, which impacts not only your emotional, but also physical health, including your longevity!
Here are some tips from UW Health, on how you can create an environment that will help you thrive and earn extra points this week.
Is your home inviting for guests? What about yourself? If you enjoy spending time with family or having friends over, consider whether your furniture encourages it. Are there comfortable places for multiple people to sit? Just like the restaurant, your home space can help encourage people to linger and enjoy time together.
Clear the Clutter
The home is supposed to be a refuge from the world, where you can relax and recharge. But if it’s dirty or full of clutter, it may be more of a source of stress than of healing. While everyone has their own way to clear the clutter, doing so can help you feel lighter and more positive. That stack of unopened mail is a constant reminder of things you need to do, which can feel draining. So start by tackling that pile. And once you do, look for ways you can help keep it clutter-free in the future. It might be starting a new habit, like going through the mail as soon as you get home or folding and putting the laundry away as soon as it is washed. Whatever it is, take small steps and make changes one at a time.
Brighten the Light
There are times you want bright light and then there are times you don’t, and it all depends on the time of day. Letting in natural light in the morning, and keeping the house bright throughout the day can help keep you feeling alert and awake. But as the afternoon wears on toward evening, then it’s time to start dimming the lights more. A brightly lit house at night can make it harder to wind down from the activity of the day and fall asleep at night.
Revel in Your Senses
Many people had the experience of living in an apartment or rental house with its off-white walls. After a while, it can feel a little bare. But as you consider colors, think about how they can shift the feel of a room. A deep red wall might be a bold addition to a dining area, while blues and greens can help create a peaceful environment. Curtains, artwork or photos are more ways to enhance a space visually, while opening a window for fresh air, or soft music can help engage the other senses and create a sense of calm.
Research shows that even short contact with nature is beneficial to our well-being. As little as 3-5 minutes of contact with nature has been linked to reduced stress, reduced anger, and a boost in positive feelings. Some of the same effects are seen if we have views of nature or can bring nature into the living space through plants or fresh flowers, aquariums, and even fireplaces.
Quiet the Noise
Silence can be golden. We are bombarded by noise throughout the day. Even just having the radio or TV on in the background can make it hard for our minds to take a break. Set aside time throughout the day to just enjoy the quietness around you.
Find ways to bring joy into your surroundings. Maybe it’s the space to enjoy a hobby or place where family photos are displayed – small additions can help create a sense of space that is nurturing and creative. When you are able to create a space that is a personal reflection, it can help you feel refreshed at the end of a long day.
** Please log each effort to create a healing environment under activities as 5 minutes of mindfulness/mediation.
05 Jan, 2021