The term mindfulness is the act of staying present in each moment. This has been shown to be helpful for balancing mood as it decreases anxiety and worrying about the future as well as the prevention of being too stuck in the past. I would also like to discuss ways being mindful can help in our daily lives.
Have you ever thought to yourself that you wished you were more organized or less forgetful? How about looking around your desk at work or your home, is it full of clutter? The same would go for your computer and email as well as your phone — is it also full of junk mail? Being mindful is the act of staying present, being aware of your surroundings and noticing new things without judgment. I encourage you to once a week, clear your surrounding of clutter. Do laundry, straighten up the house, throw out old mail, it will also clear your mind of clutter. When you have clarity of mind you will feel more balanced and peaceful. I truly believe that your surroundings are an extension of yourself, so try to take care of them just as you would care for someone you love.
The next thing is to clear your mind of any negative thoughts, especially regarding yourself or others. If you make a mistake or something is not going well in your life, do you get down on yourself? I really think that being kind inside your mind can help flip your perspective on situations that aren’t seemingly working out in your favor. Imagine right now, a situation that isn’t ideal and imagine that it is already fixed. When you put positive thoughts into the universe, it will come back to you. This is also true with health, if you imagine yourself whole healthy and healed, your body can follow your mind.
The brain heals in “theta wave” state. To get to this, you must do something relaxing. I often tell patients to pick something that relaxes them such as yoga, a hot bath with epsom salts, massage, meditation or acupuncture. If you are constantly stuck in “fight or flight,” your nervous system is on alert and you will feel jittery or anxious. Switching to the more relaxed parasympathetic state “rest and digest” can improve sleep, help digestion and repair the nervous system. If you are new to meditation, try a guided visualization exercise even for 10 minutes at a time. Meditating and being mindful takes practice and over time it will become more natural and easy to do.
Dr. Allison Apfelbaum is a naturopathic primary care doctor in Woodinville. To learn more go to www.treeofhealthmedicine.com or call 425-408-0040.