Athletes, elementary school children, medical students, practicing doctors and their patients, business executives and investments types — all were learning to calm their minds, focus their attentions, and hone their listening skills into effective actions.
Today, mindfulness is nearly synonymous with well-being, and for good reason.
We spend hours juggling work, kids, and everyday life, often without catching a break. We hear ourselves and others complain about how stressed we are, how free time is non-existent, how we’re run down.
Many of us experience the effects of stress and busyness as commonplace–the perils and cost of success.
Yet, we know that chronic stress takes a heavy toll on our health and well-being, our mood and mindset, our relationships and connections. Knowing this we’re still not always sure how to catch a break to rest, catch our breath, or re-group.
What is mindfulness, and how exactly, is it helpful?
Mindfulness is paying attention, in this moment, on purpose, without judgment.
It’s that simple . . . and that difficult.
The benefits of a practicing mindfulness are plentiful in our daily lives:
- Greater focus and clarity of mind
- Improved decision-making
- Reduced emotional reactivity, increases in choice
- Increased empathy and compassion, deeper connections
- Increased resilience to better cope with adversity and challenges, lower stress and improved well-being.
As you can see, mindfulness will help you to cope better with whatever the new year throws at you.
Resilience – the ability to bounce back quickly from adversity – grows over time as we practice mindfulness. Since resiliency is not an inborn trait, any one of us can become more resilient by training our attentions, similar to how training your body’s muscles increases your strength and stamina.
In fact, world-renowned neuroscientist, Richard Davidson, states, “Well-being is a skill. Well-being is fundamentally no different than learning to play the cello.”
His conclusion? Practicing mindfulness builds the skill of resilience, and both mindfulness and resilience contribute to your overall well-being. Can’t get that at the gym!
Given this evidence I’m going to share 5 Steps to a More Resilient You. Before I do, I want to give you a clear example of how these skills will support you.
Let’s say you have a heated disagreement with your co-worker on how to best meet a project deadline.
Anticipating a tricky conversation or difficult exchange with someone, you likely rehearsed what might happen; afterwards you likely rehashed what just occurred.
You find you’ve begun to create stories about what it all means. You’ve begun to fuss about your role on the team. You worry your boss will need to intervene. You wonder how you could have handled the conversation differently. Your anxiety is ratcheting upwards.
How can mindfulness help?
Mindful attention reduces your attachment to what you think and how you feel so you have more power and energy to act in the moment. It also literally alters your brain so you’re more resilient and bounce back when negative events actually happen.
We all know from experience that all rehearsing and rehashing isn’t useful – in fact, it creates more stress. Practicing mindfulness (yes, really practicing) will enable you to bounce back from difficulties much more quickly, and potentially keep you from having them in the first place.
5 ways to build your resilience:
1) Catch yourself being yourself
Catch yourself doing that thing you do that keeps you from handling life’s intensities well. It’s become a habit. It has a pattern.
2) Pause and breathe
Notice the impact of your pattern on your body, your Self, so you can move to shift it to a new pattern that’s more resilient – reflecting your choices.
3) Tune into your body
Our pattern takes on a physical shape whether we realize it or not. We usually don’t notice until something hurts. So, notice where you’re holding tension.
4) Extend kindness to yourself
Berating yourself reinforces the pattern that’s not working and costs a lot in energy and self-respect.
5) Extend kindness to others
This is a powerful act that helps you escape the pattern and grow.
Keep this worksheet on your desk or somewhere you’ll see it each day. Commit to putting the steps into action daily and notice your well-being (and relationships) quickly shift for the better.
I’d love to hear from you. Hit reply to let me know how your mindfulness practices are going, or if you have any questions. And, certainly feel free to forward this to your friends and colleagues!