We hear the word mindfulness a lot. But what does it really mean, and how can incorporating more mindfulness into our daily routines benefit healthy lifestyle goals like managing weight, avoiding overeating and reducing stress? In this blog post I’m sharing 5 of the mindfulness tools that I use to feel good and reach my healthy lifestyle goals every day.
What is mindfulness?
Before we go any further into the mindfulness tools I use to feel good every day, let’s talk about what mindfulness is.
According to the Oxford Languages Dictionary, mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment.
For me, the benefits of practicing mindfulness include helping me make healthier decisions around eating and nutrition, decreasing my stress and anxiety levels and shifting my mindset in a more positive direction. All of these things add up hugely when it comes to me feeling really good on a daily basis.
The goal with practicing mindfulness is basically just to keep your focus on the present moment and the way you’re feeling in that moment, so that you can make healthier lifestyle choices with the awareness you are cultivating, and the information you are receiving as a result of that awareness. And there are many different ways to practice it.
5 Mindfulness Tools I Use To Feel Good Every Day
Mindfulness Tool #1 | MEDITATION
Meditation is hands down one of my favorite mindfulness tools. It’s just such a game changer for feeling good in so many ways, many of which may be surprising.
A few of the benefits that I experience with maintaining a daily meditation practice include reducing anxiety and feelings of stress, nourishing and calming my nervous system, improving my gut health, helping me to stay focused and connecting with my higher power (God).
All of these contribute to whether or not I feel good on a daily basis.
It seems that many women are hesitant to begin a meditation practice because they 1) just don’t know where to start, 2) aren’t aware of how much it can help improve the way they feel every day or 3) believe it involves some kind of woo-woo spirituality component that they think they aren’t comfortable with.
And here’s my response to each of these concerns:
1) There’s no right or wrong way to meditate and no right or wrong way to start. The most important thing is just to find something that you enjoy and do it consistently. I love a guided meditation and I also love singing bowl meditations. My favorite meditation teacher, Donna D’Cruz, has tons of free guided meditations on her Instagram page.
2) Meditation is one of the best tools in my wellness toolkit for nourishing and calming my nervous system. I can feel my shoulders relaxing down as I close my eyes and begin to focus on my breathing. Calming my nervous system is the only way to get my body out of a “fight or flight” state and move into a “rest and digest” state, which is where stress hormones stop flooding and my body knows it’s safe. We need to be in a “rest and digest” state in order for digestion to work properly, for good deep sleep, for weight loss (if the body is holding on to weight due to stress hormones, etc) and more.
3) A meditation practice can be anything you want it to be. It can be prayer, it be sitting quietly and focusing on breaths in and out, it can be repeating a positive mantra or affirmation in your head or aloud, it can be a walking meditation, it can be guided or non-guided. It can literally be anything. In fact, my husband has always said that washing cars is a meditative practice for him. The repetitive motions, being outside in the sun with music playing…this calms him and grounds him. No one can set “rules” around what another person finds to be meditative, so set your own for yourself.
Mindfulness Tool #2 | MINDFUL MOVEMENT
Another mindfulness tool I have learned to utilize (but still have to remember to practice it) is mindful movement. This involves paying attention to my body as I’m exercising, paying attention to my breath, taking breaks from sitting at my desk so my body can move all day throughout the day, etc.
The benefits of mindful movement are learning to pay attention when something feels good in my body, or when something feels “off.” This practice has helped me learn about my body more than I ever thought possible, and I can tell very quickly if I’ve injured something in my body, or if my body is in the beginning states of an illness. I can just tell because I can feel the difference.
I also love to move slowly and intentionally when I’m doing yoga, Pilates or strength training. Moving slowly is beneficial because in addition to helping prevent me from getting injured, it also helps me to take the time to identify which muscle/s should be engaging for each part of every movement. For instance, I’ll focus on contracting my quads and core while lowering down into a squat, then while I’m low in the squat, I’ll begin to move the contraction into my glutes and shift the weight into my heels as I come back up to standing. This makes a workout so much more efficient and effective!
When sitting at my desk for too long, I’ll check in with myself and ask how my spine is feeling, how my hips are feeling, am I slumping and forgetting to engage my core? Is it time to stand up and take Scout for a walk around the block? These are all examples of mindful movement and body awareness.
Mindfulness Tool #3 | PRACTICING 80/20 EATING
I also utilize certain mindfulness practices when it comes to what I’m eating, and how much. I like to practice what I call 80/20 Eating when choosing the foods I eat. This means that 80% of the time, I try to choose foods that are whole and unprocessed and made with one-ingredient foods, and preferably foods that I’ve made myself. That leaves the other 20% of the time that I might go for more processed foods like bread, protein powder, vegan cheese or sweet potato chips out of the bag (I love the Terra brand!).
I definitely notice a difference in the inflammation levels in my body when I’m eating whole, unprocessed foods that I’ve made myself 80% of the time. For me, it adds up hugely in my digestion. If I eat processed foods more than 20% of the time, I start to have more of those digestive symptoms like bloating and gas. If I stick with the clean foods 80% of the time, my digestion stays happy and healthy and right on track.
This is one of the big reasons why I’m such a huge believer in cooking most of the foods we eat at home. It just feels so much better in my body and I really think it’s true for most everyone. For tons of healthy but easy recipes to try at home, be sure and check out all the recipes here on my blog, and on my Instagram page, too.
Mindfulness Tool #4 | USING THE HUNGER/FULLNESS SCALE
A mindfulness tool I use when it comes to how much I’m eating is the Hunger/Fullness Scale.
This is one of my most favorite tools that helps me to maintain my healthy goal weight without having to count calories, macronutrients, hours fasted or anything else. It’s a tool that allows you to connect with your body’s natural, internal cues. But it definitely requires mindfulness!
Here’s how I use it: whenever I’m feeling hungry and it’s time to eat, I’ll ask myself how hungry I am on a scale from 1-10 where 1 is ravenous and 10 is Thanksgiving dinner full (ugh, miserable!).
I try not to let myself get hungrier than a 3 or 4, and then I try to stay connected to myself during my meal, noticing my hunger level, and try to put down my fork at no more than a 6.5 or 7.
This tool helps to keep me from overeating which is one of the main causes of weight gain. Even when I’m choosing healthy foods like veggies and fruits and smoothies and nut butters, I want to make sure I’m not ever really getting to that point of overeating or being overly full.
On the flip side, not letting myself get too hungry is a huge factor in whether or not I’ll be tempted to overeat, which is why I try to avoid dipping lower than a 3 or 4 on the Hunger/Fullness Scale.
Again, this is such an important practice when it comes to maintaining my weight, but the mindfulness is KEY!
Mindfulness Tool #5 | SHIFTING MY PERSPECTIVE
The last mindfulness tools I use to feel good every day are around mindset and perspective.
As soon as I notice myself feeling irritable or frustrated with myself, a situation or another person, I ask God to please help me to shift my perspective and to just see the situation differently. Oftentimes all we really need is a shift in perspective rather than a shift in the entire situation. One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Wayne Dyer: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
And practicing gratitude daily also helps so much with maintaining a positive mindset. Just a quick moment or two to appreciate the things I’m most grateful for, either first thing in the morning or before I go to sleep at night, can change everything for the better and in a more positive direction, which definitely feels better.
I hope you enjoyed reading more about the 5 mindfulness tools I use to feel good every day! Mindfulness truly is a daily practice and I find that the more I focus on and implement each of these tools, the more like second nature they become in my daily routine.
Please feel free to comment below anything you’d like to add to this conversation or any questions you may have about these mindfulness tools and how to use them.
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