Lower blood pressure, better sleep, more energy, stronger immune system, reduced chronic pain, less muscle tension—the list of benefits from mindfulness reads like a checklist of essential health components. Research has found, over and over, that paying attention to your mind-body connection through simple mindful practices (see “Mindfulness Practices in 1 Minute or Less” below) can give you major mental and physical health advantages.
Plus, there’s often a ripple effect. For example, being more mindful might cause you to make nutritious food choices, and that improves sleep, which then boosts your energy for a workout the next day. Those effects stacking up can be powerful and make you feel more balanced and resilient, and less stressed and overwhelmed.
“For me, being mindful means being in the present moment as much as possible,” says Kayla Velie, UHS Employee Health and Wellness Coordinator. “That allows you to feel more fully here, rather than distracted by everything you need to do.”
UHS encourages mindfulness among its employees with resources such as wellness programs, dietitian advice and a health-promoting app. For people in the UHS community, we offer Stay Healthy seminars that emphasize wellness and setting healthy habits. Anything that lets people tap into a mind-body connection can bolster a sense of mindfulness, says Ms. Velie.
Mindfulness Practices in 1 Minute or Less
Being more mindful doesn’t mean you need to set aside a bunch of time, or even to find a quiet place. Try these anytime, anywhere strategies:
- Write down 3 things. that make you feel grateful. Research shows that the simple act of keeping a “gratitude log” can make you feel calmer and more connected to those around you.
- Eat your next bite slowly—very slowly. Rather than seeing food as on-the-go fuel, consider it a chance to be more mindful. On your next bite of food, first inhale the aroma of the spices, and then savor the flavors as you’re chewing.
- Take 3 deep breaths. Making your exhale longer than your inhale engages your parasympathetic nervous system, making you feel more relaxed. On your three breaths, count up to five on your inhale, and then try exhaling for seven.