If you are one of the 45 percent of Americans who make New Year’s Resolutions: Congratulations! Any commitment to improving our lives is exemplary and deserves to be commended. While I personally plan to continue the cultivation and deepening of mindfulness in my life as well, I do so with the full understanding that it’s easy to get knocked off course.
To that end, here are tips to stay the course for the top three resolutions for this past year:
Research published in the Complementary Therapies in Medicine reported that following the typical eight-week mindfulness course, participants experienced a 16 percent decrease in the tendency to eat without control, a 39 percent decrease in hunger and a 43 percent decrease in binge eating incidences.
If Losing Weight tops your lists of resolutions, Rodale Wellness recommends these nine mindful eating tips.
- Eliminate Distractions. Put down the phone, iPad, newspaper, magazine, crossword puzzle, book, or whatever else keeps you from focusing on the meal. Make your meal strictly about the eating.
- Pay Attention to the Eating. Don’t be that person who eats mindlessly, with no knowledge of serving sizes or the number of calories in foods. Understand portion sizes. Then consciously choose what you eat.
- Put your food on display. Perfect portion control by using a plate or a bowl. Your mind will register that you’re eating and will expand your sensory experience of your meal.
- Appreciate your food. Before or during your meal, think about where your meal came from. Understanding and appreciating the food chain can actually help you make healthier food choices, potentially contributing to a more nutritious diet.
- Start Eating Slowly. When you’re just starting a journey of mindful eating, it’s helpful to take deliberate bites. Eventually the experience of eating will become so second nature that you won’t have to deliberately dine at a snail’s pace. A good starting point? Set your utensils on the table and your hands in our lap between bites.
- Observe Your Inner Experience. Mindfulness is the practice of noting every sensation and urge. Ask yourself: How do I know when I’m hungry? What sensations do I experience? How do I know when I’m full? Listen to your body responses.
- Pretend You’re a Food Critic. Now that you’ve slowed your rate of consumption, take note of the presentation, the nuances of flavor, aroma and texture of every meal item. Focus on the entire sensory experience of eating.
- Eat How Much You Need – Not How Much You Think You Should. Only your body can tell you how much you need to eat. If your body tells you to continue eating, then you have no reason to feel bad about doing so. The key here is to listen and be mindful of your body’s inner voice.
- Practice Mindfulness Every Time You Eat. Yes, it’s possible to eat mindfully, even at a party, buffet or family gathering. Let your friends or family do the talking at the start of the meal, buying you time for mini meditation or a few moments to take a deliberate bite or two.
Is this the year you are going to get rid of clutter, down-size perhaps? Simplifyze Organizing Services offers these six practices – being mindful of each – to stay organized.
- When you use something, put it back. The scissors. A cookbook. Your sewing kit. A flashlight. The iron. You get it.
- Establish rules for how many of anything you want to own. For example, you can choose to own only as many cooking pans as will fit in a specific kitchen cabinet. Or you only want seven pairs of yoga pants, one for each day of the week. Then, if you bring another one home, one has to go.
- Finish day-to-day activities. Put all the clothes away when they’re done drying. Don’t consider dinner done until the dishes and counters are clean, too.
- Start a new habit and stick with it. Mindfully and consciously. Review and act on the mail the moment you retrieve it. Choose three items to donate or recycle every night before you go to bed, no matter what.
- Whenever you find your mind is not focused on the task at hand, bring yourself back to this moment. When you’re cleaning, smell the vinegar and lemon. Watch the lint disappear from the rug as you vacuum. Feel the suds in your sponge.
- When you repeatedly pick something up and move it to another space, stop. Ask yourself if there’s an unmade decision about the item. Should it be leaving your home? Or, identify where it belongs and put it away.
Spend Less. Save More
Mindfulness practices can influence nearly every aspect of your life, financial health is no exception. But just like mindfulness, good financial habits take time to master. The Ready for Zero Blog offers these three nuggets if better financial health is on your New Year’s list of goals entering 2016.
- If you buy something new, you must get rid of something else in your home.
- Go on a spending fast—for instance, only spend money during the weekends. Or you can be creative about this: give up shopping for 30 days during the Chinese New Year; avoid buying new clothes for the forty days of Lent.
- Go cash only: When you make all of your purchases in cash instead of credit, it forces you to think about whether it is actually worth handing over hard cash for any particular item.
Losing weight, getting organized or financial fitness not on your list of New Year’s Resolution? Let us know what is. While mindfulness is not a panacea, there are myriad challenges that mindfulness can help resolve.
Here’s to your health and a prosperous New Year.