Updated: Nov 24
You’ve likely heard about the benefits of mindfulness or living in the present, and while it sounds like a nice practice, it can seem impossible to practice. You’ve got bills to worry about, kids to run around, work to do, and an endless pile of laundry! If you think you have no time to practice mindfulness, you’re in the right place! Keep reading to learn easy steps to become more mindful in your everyday life — without neglecting your responsibilities or to-do list!
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the ability to observe your thoughts and feelings as temporary events to maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of all thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and your surrounding environment .
During one of our podcast episodes on mindfulness for women, we interviewed Teri Pipe, PhD, RN, Professor, and Dean Emerita of the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University (ASU).
Dr. Pipe is also the founder of the Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience at ASU and a mindfulness expert. She shared her thoughts on what mindfulness is, “Mindfulness is really about the skill of paying attention in the moment. Mindfulness can be practiced in everyday life. And that often includes meditation or mindful walking, yoga, mindful eating, lots of different, really concentrated practices.”
Benefits of Mindfulness
Studies have found that a consistent practice of mindfulness, whether it’s yoga, meditation, journaling, or simply taking time to observe your thoughts and feelings, can lead to the following benefits :
• Reduced anxiety, stress, and depression
• Cognitive improvement, including better memory
• Better physical health
• Increased ability to deal with stressors in a healthy and productive way
• Improved sleep
Benefits of Mindfulness on Women’s Health
Mindfulness also has powerful benefits for women’s health and the stress that comes with being a woman.
According to Dr. Pipe, research has confirmed that mindfulness can reduce blood sugar, help regulate blood glucose, and increase muscle strength and bone health.
“One thing that we’re hearing a lot these days is that much of the stress that is happening for women comes from the multiple roles that they’re playing,” she said. “Thinking about ways that we can interrupt that stress response is very important for women’s health overall, in terms of a whole-person health outlook.”
Another benefit of mindfulness on women’s health is using the practice to deal with the symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and insomnia.
“One thing that can really help with hot flashes is using the power of your imagination to imagine a cool breeze sitting on the end of a dock with your feet in the water,” Dr. Pipe said. “There have been some studies looking at hypnosis and hot flashes that are really interesting and looking at the power of self suggestions, self-imagery, guided imagery, to reduce those symptoms. Insomnia is not only not being able to get to sleep, but being interrupted at night and trying to go back to sleep.”
Dr. Pipe recommends a mindfulness practice called the body scan to lull yourself back to sleep in which you scan your body from head to toe and feel whatever is there without trying to change it.
Women dealing with weight gain from menopause can also count on mindfulness by practicing mindful eating.
“It’s important to think about mindful eating as not eating restriction, but enjoying what you eat when you eat it,” Dr. Pipe explained. “And remembering that you have a choice of what you eat, and what will help you feel better. A lot of women find that certain substances bring on a hot flash, like caffeine or red wine. So figuring out what might trigger your symptoms, and then just mindfully saying, ‘I’m going to take care of myself by not having that right now.’ It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever get to have it, but right now, maybe it’s better to choose something else.”
Simple Mindfulness Techniques for All Women
While there are more formal practices that can entail special training, the good news is that you can practice simple mindfulness techniques that do not require any special skills and can provide benefits as well.
Here are some easy ways you can start incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine:
• Breathing Techniques: Inhale, hold, and exhale for three counts each. Repeat.
• Mindfulness while drinking or eating: Did you know you can practice mindfulness during daily tasks such as eating and drinking? Simply take a few extra seconds to savor the flavors and pay attention to the temperature and texture of each sip or bite.
• Stretch: Rolling your neck, releasing your shoulders, and touching your toes are all easy stretches you can do just about anywhere. Slow down while doing these stretches and focus on letting the tension go every time you exhale.
• Connect with nature: Get outdoors and revel in a beautiful view or take in the sounds and sights of nature on a walk. Take note of what you see, feel, and hear.
• Journal: Journaling is an excellent way to slow down and recap your feelings or anticipate what’s to come. Try starting each day by writing five things you are grateful for in your journal.
Start Being More Mindful Today
Use the practice of mindfulness to melt stress away and become more connected with your body and the world around you. Start today by practicing one of the techniques mentioned above and see how your entire mindset and mood shift — whether it’s a quick meditation, mindfully eating, yoga, stretching, or any other mindfulness practice. Don’t forget about the powerful benefits of mindfulness on women’s health, too!