Multitasking on so many fronts can be enormously stressful. Stress, in turn, can contribute to a host of health problems.
The lengthy list includes:
- Poor sleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling anxious and/or irritated
- Low energy
- Grinding your teeth at night
- Stomach upset
- Heart disease
The good news is that there’s something you can do about it — and it doesn’t cost money, require a lot of time or involve taking medication. It’s practicing mindfulness.
We spent some time with Anita Perry, an author, yogi and educator who teaches yoga once a week at the Clinton Campus of UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital. She explains that mindfulness is when you are present and in the moment, here and now.
Quiet Your Monkey Mind
In yoga, there’s an expression called ‘monkey mind.’ You’re thinking about 10 different things at once. But in class, students focus on simply being present in the moment, being aware of their breath, feeling grateful for what is and letting the other ‘stuff’ go for now.
So how much — or how little — does someone have to practice mindfulness to reap its benefits, especially women who feel their days are already overscheduled?
Anita, who wrote Yogaminute, an easy-to-follow guide for anyone who needs to incorporate yoga — and the mindfulness it promotes — into their daily lives, one minute at a time, says that just a minute in your day is a good start.
A daily practice, even for five or 10 minutes, would be even better. Just sitting quietly, with eyes closed, and focusing on your breath can help calm the monkey mind and induce a state of relaxation. The more you do it, the easier it gets to slip into that relaxed state.
When you make it a priority, you can find the time. And the benefits to your health and peace of mind are worth it.
So … What Are the Benefits?
What are the benefits of practicing mindfulness and achieving that state of relaxation?
There are so many. It calms the mind, helps you to be less stressed, helps you sleep better and be better able to deal with everyday issues that come up.
Research has also shown that mindfulness-based stress reduction can:
- Increase immune function
- Lower blood pressure and heart rate
- Increase attention and focus
- Increase clarity of thinking and perception
- Lower anxiety
- Reduce fatigue
- Help you lose weight
- Promote calmness and feeling internally still
- Promote a sense of feeling connected
Women, in particular, are givers, always going above and beyond. We don’t work 24/7 — we work 36/7 — and if we could fit more hours in our day, we would.
This reinforces why taking time for ourselves is so important. We can’t be there for others if we don’t take care of ourselves. Practicing mindfulness is a positive way to do this.
Related Mindfulness Posts:
Join the conversation. Do you have questions about mindfulness and how to get started? If you practice mindfulness, how has it affected your health and mental outlook? Let us hear from you!
UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital offers several yoga classes each week that focus on stress relief. For more information, call 978-665-5800.
This blog post is part of our Simply Women initiative that caters to the unique health care needs of women and their families.