Health and wellness includes keeping your brain in tiptop shape!
How often do you stop to think about what you’re actually doing in a given moment? Do you ever find yourself driving to work and then get there only to realize you don’t remember bits and pieces of the trip or whether or not you locked the front door?
Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of our daily routines that we don’t always take the time to slow down and think about our actions. As humans, we frequently feel the need to complete multiple tasks at a given time and, in today’s world, improvements in technology have aided us in doing so. When you think about it, we are actually driven by these devices to rush. Their efficiency encourages us to move hastily, which exhausts us and causes us to overlook our health.
But, guess what, Bs? It’s actually a myth that humans can even multitask at all. BOOM!
I’m bringing in B3’s first ever guest contributor to elaborate and enlighten us on this topic. She’s a certified yoga instructor with several years of experience in the field. Her classes have a strong emphasis on meditation, alignment and sequencing, which builds both strength and flexibility mentally and physically. Her goal is to help people realize their potential; often times through mindfulness in her practice. She’s also an environmental scientist, dog lover, nature admirer, health and wellness advocate and VTer turned NCer. Her name is Leanna and she is my sister. (Awww)
The Multitasking Myth
According to NPR’s Jon Hamilton, “Humans don’t do lots of things simultaneously. Instead we switch our attention from task to task extremely quickly.”
Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT explains that humans simply can’t focus on more than one thing at a time, because similar tasks compete to use the same part of the brain. Multitasking between two similar activities would literally create interference in the brain. Researchers say they can actually see the brain struggling.
This is real talk from the experts themselves.
So, what do we do?
Give mindfulness a try! Health and wellness isn’t only about eating well and exercising. It’s about keeping everything inside of you healthy too and that includes your brain.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness refers to a psychological state of awareness…it is moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgement. In this sense, it is a state and not a trait. (American Psychological Association).
How do we practice mindfulness?
Consider the ABCs
A- Awareness– Become more aware of what you are thinking and doing. What is going on in your mind and body?
B- Being– “Just be” with your experience. Avoid the tendency to respond on auto-pilot and feed problems by creating your own story.
C- Seeing– See things and respond more wisely. By creating a gap between the experience and our reaction to it, we can make wiser choices
Adapted from Juliet Adams, Founder of Mindfulnet.org & Directory, A Head for Work
What are the benefits of being mindful?
- Stress reduction! Studies find that mindfulness shifts people’s ability to use emotion regulation and strategies in a way that enables them to experience emotion selectivity, i.e. choosing what emotions they want to identify with.
- Reduced rumination. Rumination refers to our tendency to continuously think about different aspects of situations that were upsetting or created a negative emotional experience. Mindfulness helps us to view various situations in a more positive light, reducing depressive thoughts and symptoms.
- More cognitive flexibility. Mindfulness allows us to make more adaptive responses to stressful or negative situations.
- Boosts working memory
- Improves focus
- Less emotional re-activity
More research is still being done on the long term benefits of mindfulness, but in the short-term it certainly can help to improve our everyday lives.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
If you’re looking for ways to start practicing mindfulness in your life, try some of these easy exercises!
- Mindful Breathing: Simply identify the inhale as the inhale and the exhale as the exhale. Maybe saying to yourself, “Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.” Simply focus on your own breath. When you focus deeply on your breath in the present moment, all of that mental discourse and noise will stop. You won’t have to make an effort to stop your thinking, it will just stop. Focusing on your present moment breath, you won’t think of the past and you won’t think of your future.
- Mindful Eating: Next time you are eating food, really pay attention to what you are eating. Become aware of the sensations of your mouth and body as you bite into the food. Chew slowly, becoming aware of the different tastes in your mouth. Try to identify the different parts of the tongue and mouth that taste certain flavors such as salty, sour, bitter, sweet, or astringent etc. Maybe chew each bite 20 times and then notice the sensations throughout your body as you swallow and digest the food. This is not only a great mindfulness exercise but it can be helpful in learning how to avoid overeating.
- Mindful Walking: Take a 10 or 20 minute walk and become aware of your bodily sensations as you walk. How do your feet feel as you place one foot in front of the other? Can you feel which muscles are working together and which are opposing each other? How are you breathing as you walk? Do you inhale as you step one foot forward and exhale as you step the other forward? Maybe eventually you turn your attention to your surroundings, focusing on the environment around you. Do you see any birds or bugs flying around? Do you notice the wind blowing through the trees or grass?
Bring your mind home to your body and be alive. It is a wonderful thing!
(Contributor: Leanna Muroski)
What are your favorite ways to practice being mindful? Share in the comments section of this post or on our social media pages! If you’re interested in exploring this further, see here or send us an email.
Adams, Juliet. “What Is Mindfulness?” Mindfulnet.org:The Independent Mindfulness Information Website –. Mindfulness.net, 2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. http://www.mindfulnet.org/page2.htm
Davis, Daphne, PhD, and Jeffery Hayes, PhD. “What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness.” American Psychological Association. APA, July-Aug. 2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner.aspx>
Hamilton, Jon. “Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again.” NPR. NPR, 2 Oct. 2008. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95256794>