Mindfulness 101 for Busy Professionals
At Everglow Nutrition, we promote 5 pillars to nourishing your inner glow. These include nutrition, mindfulness, movement, self-care, and sleep. Since May is mental health awareness month, we’re bringing you mindfulness 101 for busy professionals.
What is mindfulness? Who is it for? As a busy professional, how can I make time for mindfulness?
Before you think mindfulness isn’t for you, consider these mindfulness tips and practices for busy professionals.
Mindfulness 101 for Busy Professionals
What is Mindfulness?
John Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, describes mindfulness as paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.
Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally.
In other words, mindfulness is about staying present to the here and now, without judgment.
Think about it. How much time do you spend worrying about the future or feeling stuck in the past? Too often, we get caught up in worst-case-scenario thinking, draining our mental energy on what could happen. Or, we replay our past, judging what we did or didn’t do.
This type of thinking only creates unnecessary stress and robs us of the joy available in the present moment. Mindfulness is a tool to shift your awareness back to the present moment, protecting your thoughts and mental energy.
What’s the science behind mindfulness?
Perhaps you’re thinking that mindfulness is too “woo-woo” as I like to call it. Let’s balance the woo-woo with a drop of science, shall we?
Mindfulness is being prescribed by physicians to patients living with chronic conditions. Healthy individuals practice mindfulness to better cope with daily stressors and regulate emotions. Even athletes are using mindfulness to improve their performance.
First, a meta-analysis of MBSR programs published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research concluded that mindfulness is moderately effective in reducing stress, depression, anxiety, and distress and in improving the quality of life of healthy individuals (1).
Additionally, one study examined the benefits of mindfulness among women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. The women who completed an 8-week MBSR program had reduced cortisol levels (a stress hormone), improved quality of life, and better ability to cope as compared to the non-MBSR group (2).
Lastly, it is suggested that mindfulness may help to improve employees’ psychological functioning. This includes decreased levels of burnout and occupational stress while increasing the quality of sleep and relaxation (3).
In summary, mindfulness supports the health of all populations, mentally and physically.
How can mindfulness help me improve my relationship with food?
There are 7 keys to mindfulness, which overlap with the Intuitive Eating Principles. The 7 keys to mindfulness are non-judging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance, and letting go. Mindfulness assists in dropping judgment around food choices as “good” and “bad”, re-building body trust after a period of dieting, and practicing body acceptance. Be on the lookout for a future blog post highlighting the intersection between mindfulness and intuitive eating.
Getting Started with Mindfulness Practices
The burning question: how do I practice mindfulness? There are a variety of methods of practicing mindfulness including mediation, breathwork, and body scan. It’s important to select mindfulness practices that fit into your current lifestyle.
Set aside as little as 5 minutes a day for mediation. If you’re new to meditation, there are plenty of free apps and resources available to assist your practice. My favorite app for guided mediation is Insight Timer. Popular mindfulness meditation teachers with resources on this app include Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. Set a mini-goal for mediation. What will you commit to? Perhaps add meditation to your morning routine.
Breath is our life-force. It’s nourishing, relaxing, and calming when we allow it to be. Anytime the mind starts to wander into the future or past, the breath can be used as an immediate anchor into the present moment. Try it: take 3 rounds of breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. Close your eyes to place your attention on the breath. How do you feel now? Remember, you can practice this anywhere and anytime, even at the office.
I walk you through a 7-minute mindful breathing exercise in this Youtube Video.
The body scan practice involves systematically focusing on various parts of the body to promote relaxation and release tension. During the body scan, observation of the body’s physical sensations is non-judgmental and curious. A guided version of the body scan can be found available on the Insight Timer app, too. In particular, I find the body scan particularly helpful before bed.
Everglow Nutrition on Mindfulness
For May, Everglow Nutrition is offering free weekly mindfulness meditations to support your practice. Be the first to receive these meditations by signing up for the Your Sunday Glow Newsletter here. Or subscribe to the Everglow Nutrition YouTube channel for more.