Spring Cleaning Our Minds—Clearing the Mental Cobwebs with Mindfulness

LEAD just hosted its sixth Coffee and Connect, which discussed how we can use mindfulness in our daily lives. Here are some of the main takeaways from the event:

Speakers: Christina Pettinato, MS and Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC

WHY MINDFULNESS?

  • Just as cleaning out a closet or organizing a “junk drawer” at home can feel good, it also feels good to clear our minds frequently.
  • Lots of clinically significant research proves that Mindfulness WORKS to help clear our minds, decrease anxiety, and reduce stress.
  • Mindfulness can be used by everyone! And, it can be applied independently (without the guidance of a professional) which makes Mindfulness a universal, accessible tool for ALL.

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?

  • Mindfulness means staying present in the moment.
  • Types of Mindfulness (a partial list):
    • Mindful eating- focus closely on the smell, taste, texture, changes in your meal as you eat slowly. Practice every time you eat, and use meals as an opportunity to clear your mind and calm your day.
    • Deep breathing using “diaphragmatic breathing technique” https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/diaphragmatic-breathing
    • “Body Scanning”—from head to toe, concentrate on relaxing all parts of the body AND notice where you “hold your stress” in your body. Then, imagine a cool, blue “dot” and using your mind’s eye, place the dot on the area of stress/pain/etc. Imagine the dot moving around that area, cooling and working out stress, and experience relief (with practice!)
    • Guided imagery—there are numerous, free guided imagery experiences on the internet. Find one you like, listen and follow the prompts to practice mindfulness and reduce stress. Here is one link to start with: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~healthed/relax/downloads.html

CREATE YOUR OWN MINDFULNESS PLAN

  • Purposefully plan to incorporate mindfulness practice into your daily routine.
  • Start with just a few minutes a day and build up.
  • Start by being aware of your stress level throughout your day, and try to reduce stress.
  • Choose a mindfulness activity (or other stress reducing activity) and add it to your every day:
    • For example, transform an everyday activity into a mindful experience—such as walking your dog, brushing your teeth, tying your shoes, preparing your breakfast, drinking your coffee, etc…
    • Find what works for you— the internet has vast amounts of resources regarding mindfulness/stress reduction
    • Take time to just be with yourself and experience calm, peace, relaxation, etc.