“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
Words of wisdom from Buddha that many forget when our busy day-to-day lives take over. With mental health becoming less of a stigma, many are finding different ways to cope whether it be therapy, exercise, support groups, or medication.
Over the last year, many have found that they had more free time, and that allowed them to develop new routines to live healthier lives. It is easy to focus on physical health, by working out, taking a walk, or other exercises such as swimming, biking, playing tennis or running. Each of these is a known mood booster that decreases symptoms of both depression and anxiety. Through exercise, your body releases dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which are all brain chemicals that play an important part of regulating your mood.
However, taking care of your physical health is not the only solution. It is important to pay attention to your mental health as well. Mindfulness is a big step to help understand and manage your thoughts and feelings better, as well as maximize your productivity.
Small changes to your daily routine can help improve mindfulness and adding meditation can make the changes even more apparent. Do you find that when you are anxious your mind can hop to all the different tasks you must complete? You often feel lost and stressed about everything you have to do. Try to organize your thoughts by using the 1-3-5 method – 1 big task, 3 medium tasks, and 5 smaller tasks you wish to accomplish. This will help you to organize and prioritize the items on your to-do list and feel more fulfilled when things are completed.
Mindfulness is the realization that life can be overwhelming at times. It does not mean to run away from problems or avoid unpleasant thoughts, but to accept the thoughts occupying your mind and pay attention to what you are feeling. It is difficult to be perfectly mindful, but small changes can help your mind, body, and soul adapt to your environment and stay present at the moment.
Meditation has become more popular over the last few years as people realized the importance of self-care. Meditation is a peaceful way to train your brain and redirect your negative thoughts into positive ones. There are many scientific benefits to meditation and the results are often immediate. Have you thought about trying meditation? Here are five reasons why you should:
- Reduces stress
Stress is linked to causing an increase in blood pressure, cloudy thinking, extreme fatigue, disruptive sleep, and promotes anxiety and depression. Meditation has the ability to reduce each area. Studies have proved that the pre-frontal cortex, which is the part of your brain associated with happiness, is extra active on Buddhist monks’ compared to others. Reducing stress and developing coping mechanisms within yourself is beneficial for a healthy mind.
- Improves sleep
Stress and overthinking have a major effect on sleep patterns. Many people experience issues falling asleep, and can often lay wide awake when their mind is racing. Meditation triggers your relaxation response – which is why many people fall asleep as soon as they begin their practice. Soft meditation before bed is a great solution for many having trouble falling asleep.
- Sharpens your memory
Concentration allows you to fix your attention in one place. By doing so, you can use meditation to unclutter your thoughts and calm down the constant conversations occurring. As the mind gets quieter, you begin to find inner peace and relaxation. By learning to concentrate and focus on the sole task of meditating, you are training your brain to focus and be aware of the present moment. In everyday life, this simple skill can help you become less distracted and lengthen your attention span.
- Enhances self-awareness
Meditation helps you develop a stronger understanding of who you are and what your values are. It teaches you to recognize thoughts that may enter your mind that is self-defeating, diminishing, or harmful. The goal is to be self-aware of how those thoughts come to fruition, how you can redirect your negative thoughts into more powerful ones, and how to reduce the occurrence of those thought patterns.
- Generates positivity and kindness
The goal of mediation is to create positive feelings within yourself. In turn, that positive energy will affect those around you – whether it be towards your family and friends, coworkers, or complete strangers. When people learn to be kind and forgive their internal self, it often extends to the external world as well. This type of mindfulness is linked to showing more love, care, and compassion towards others.
Whether you do it to start your day, end your day, or both, mindfulness and meditation are great practices to add to your routine. You will see immediate benefits that can grow stronger over time, and it will improve your life immensely.
We often worry about our career, our families and friends, or our bank accounts, but don’t often take the time we need to be present and live in the moment. By taking a step back and focusing on our mental health, we can positively influence our own lives. We spend our whole lives in our own heads, don’t you think we should do a better job taking care of it?
Written By Cassandra Briscoe