Offer your cohorts a customized WORKPLACE WELLNESS Workshop
Sara will work with you and your team to customize an Alexander Technique group session, either online or in-person at your worksite. Previously a member of the Hospital Corporation of America’s Workplace Wellness Team, Sara has years of experience lecturing and advising professionals in WORKPLACE WELLNESS. Blending her composite of skills in Mindfulness, Ergonomics, the Alexander Technique, Theater Arts and Fitness, Sara strategizes solutions to ease strain and stress in the workplace, be it “at home” or in the office. Finding balanced breathing and easy posture soothes the nervous system and calms tension. Consider offering your staff a retreat that teaches an array of WORKPLACE WELLNESS techniques designed just for your team’s unique needs.
On November 23 when you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with friends or loved ones, it’s typical to express what you’re thankful for. But, why limit the good feeling of acknowledging everything that’s going right in your world to one Thursday a year?
Science says there’s a strong argument for adopting an attitude of gratitude.
Harvard Health reports that psychological research proves one way to increase happiness is to adopt a regular gratitude practice. The art of gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness in life. Being thankful helps people “feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.”
How does it do so? By shifting your focus to the good things in life rather than uncertainties and worries. Chances are, some of the good things you’re grateful for have to do with other people or other powers, so gratitude helps us recognize the good in other people and other things.
OK, so you want to be more grateful. What does that look like?
One simple way to accomplish it is to start a gratitude journal. You can do it electronically, on your computer, on your phone or tablet, or even go old-school and write it down on paper. The point is, every day for 90 days, write down five things you’re grateful for and try not to repeat any of them. No matter how badly your day may be going, you’ll find that you can quickly identify a few things to be grateful for. Just look around.
You might be grateful for the beautiful autumn sky or the leaves changing colors. Or the fact that you sailed through three green lights on the way to work. Maybe you’re grateful for your best friend, spouse, children, pets or neighbor. The smell of the rain; the smile of a stranger, the first sip of your coffee or tea in the morning. Having hot water for your shower on a cold morning. A funny Facebook post that made you laugh. Whatever it is, write it down.
And you’ll start to realize that as you seek out things to be grateful for, you get better at finding them, and your brain adopts an attitude of gratitude.
The best part might be that gratitude is contagious. When you exhibit gratitude around your family, friends and kids (yes, kids!) they become more grateful by association – it simply rubs off on them.
There’s even a Facebook group called 90 Days of Gratitude where you can share what you’re grateful for each day, and read what others find to be grateful for. It might be a better way of starting your day than listening to the news, but who are we to say?
Science tells us there are at least 7 proven benefits of gratitude:
- Better physical health. When you’re grateful for what you have, you tend to care for it, and that includes your body and physical health. Gratitude encourages you to exercise more – because you’re grateful that you are physically able to – and schedule regular medical check-ups.
- Improves psychological health. Gratitude neutralizes toxic emotions including regret, envy, frustration and resentment. There’s a strong link between gratitude and feelings of well-being, increasing happiness and reducing depression.
- Improves relationships. When you’re grateful for the people in your life, relationships flourish. So, get in the habit of thanking strangers or colleagues for their help – it might lead the way to a new friendship.
- Reduces aggression and promotes empathy. When you have a regular gratitude practice, you’re less likely to react aggressively, even in a negative situation. Increased sensitivity and empathy for the plight of others lowers the need to seek revenge.
- You’ll sleep better. When you schedule your gratitude practice before bedtime, studies show you may sleep better and even snooze a little longer. A good night’s sleep is certainly something to be grateful for!
- A self-esteem boost: rather than comparing yourself to others and feeling “less than,” people notice and appreciate the accomplishments of others.
- Increased mental strength. Gratitude lowers stress and can help people overcome trauma. By identifying the many things we have to be grateful for, even during difficult times, you foster mental resilience.
We’re thankful that you read this post!
7 Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
In our last blog, we explored the topic of mindfulness, and how focusing on the here and now can positively impact our stress level, self-awareness and productivity.
Mindfulness is a state of calm, non-judgmental peacefulness. Being mindful means being “present” in the current moment by paying attention to the here and now, rather than dwelling on past or future concerns. Mindfulness means developing a moment-to-moment awareness of what we’re experiencing. It’s a state we can all cultivate, rather than a trait some innately have.
Practicing mindfulness meditation each day has proven benefits, according to the American Psychological Association:
1. Stress Reduction
A regular practice of mindfulness meditation lowers stress, anxiety and can even reduce symptoms of depression. It turns out that a lot of stress involves worrying about the future and regretting past actions. By keeping our minds in the present, those thoughts decrease, and stress is significantly lowered.
2. Improved Focus
Many of us battle against mental clutter that destroys productivity. Mindfulness brings that under control by helping us ignore useless thoughts and lengthen our attention spans, improving emotional intelligence and mental stamina.
3. Better Brain Function
Mindfulness enhances brain function. Memory improves, reaction times increase and psychological distress decreases. Compassion and empathy are heightened. Quieting the mind and removing excess worries improves its ability to perform, a benefit we can all appreciate.
4. Decreased Worrying
By focusing on the present moment, those who practice mindfulness are less likely to ruminate on worries about future events or regrets from the past. By being less preoccupied with the future and past, worry levels decrease.
5. Health Benefits
Practicing mindfulness can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension, which both help lower the risk for heart disease. It can improve sleep, boost the immune system, and reduce chronic pain. Clinical trials show that mindfulness can be as effective as prescription painkillers in reducing pain, while simultaneously enhancing the body’s ability to heal itself.
6. Increased Relationship Satisfaction
Being mindful and more emotionally aware lessens the impact and incidence of relationship conflicts. Additionally, with a reduced stress level, we are less likely to bring outside stressors into our relationship. Heightened levels of compassion make us more likely to understand our partner’s perspective and focus on their positive attributes. This all leads to happier, healthier relationships.
7. Quality of Life
Mindfulness improves our mood and makes us happier and more contented. By noticing the present moment, we are more likely to recognize the good things in life and by worrying less, minimize the bad. Regular sessions of mindfulness meditation can lower anxiety, stress, depression and irritability. Along with the health benefits and better relationship satisfaction, it improves overall quality of life.
With so many benefits, why aren’t we all practicing mindfulness meditation regularly? It’s a question worth considering. Like anything, the more you practice, the greater the benefits. It takes about 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation to quiet the mind and achieve benefits. Longer sessions (45 to 60 minutes) are even better and will yield stronger results. Mindfulness is a practice you can cultivate. Try it today!
Mindfulness: Achieve Peace in a Stressed-out World
Your cell phone is ringing – again – as you drive four kids to swim practice at 6am. Your list of unanswered texts and emails is growing. You shudder to think about Facebook. Your boss is demanding a tight deadline on that big project. Add family responsibilities and – oh yeah – a social life. No wonder a majority of us are stressed out 24/7!
How can you escape responsibilities, commitments and due dates to find peace in our stressful world? The answer is simple: by harnessing the power of your mind to focus on what’s important and teach yourself to take a mental break from worries. Just a 10-minute break each day can do you a world of good.
And don’t fret: your worries and concerns will still be here after your brief mental vacation, you’ll just feel better about them.
It sounds simple, right? Try a quick experiment: close your eyes and focus exclusively on your next five deep, slow breaths, and think about nothing but those breaths. Relax your mind. Sit in a comfortable position. Focus on the feeling of the breath as you inhale, feeling the air move through your nose, down your throat and into your lungs. Notice how your lungs expand. Now, slowly reverse the process as you exhale. Can you do that five times in a row, without outside thoughts creeping in?
If you can, your journey toward mindfulness is well under way. Mindfulness is about focusing on the here and now, being fully “present” in your current situation or task. Slow down, complete one activity at a time. Resist the urge to multitask. Pay attention to what is happening right now, staying consciously aware.
About Those Pesky Intruding Thoughts
During that breathing exercise, did some pesky thoughts come to mind, such as “I’ve got to pick up the dry cleaning!” or “We’re out of dog food” or “I’m not good at this?” If they did, that’s ok. You have the power to train your mind and choose what it thinks about. Yes, you read that right: you’re in charge of your own thoughts.
If thoughts come up while you’re practicing mindfulness, picture the thoughts like fluffy clouds on a sunny day: they come into view, and you acknowledge them. But then let them float out of sight without giving them much notice. Eventually, you’ll be able to take five – and one day ten, fifteen or more – conscious deep breaths without any pesky interruptions.
Keep it Positive
As for thoughts like, “I’m not good at this” ‒ that’s a negative thought, the type it’s best to minimize. Instead, try a positive approach: “It’s good that I’m trying something new,” or “I’ll keep improving at this.”
We are, after all, what we think. With commitment and perseverance, you can train your mind to change its focus to the positive and worry less, which releases the productive and creative power of your mind.
Studies show that practicing mindfulness meditation (such as focusing on your breath) for just 10 minutes each day can have a dramatic impact on your mental well-being. It improves focus, lowers stress levels, and increases self-awareness, mood and attention span. Mindfulness can even reduce blood pressure and enhance brain function. And no matter how busy you are, you can find 10 minutes each day!
If you’re interested in taking it a step further, explore cell phone apps to encourage mindfulness and YouTube video guides for mindfulness meditation. Here’s a 5-minute guided meditation for beginners, and a 10-minute one.
Stay tuned for our next blog, detailing the benefits of mindfulness meditation.
Even if you’re not a professional mover, most people are occasionally tasked with lifting a heavy object,
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