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Heart Month Tip #18: Be mindful

February 18, 2015

From Audrey Mitchell, Social Worker, Cardiac Rehab

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present,” says Audrey Mitchell. “When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them as good or bad.”

You can live in the present by paying attention to the details around you, Audrey says. Use your senses to feel a soft blanket, see a beautiful sunset, smell bread baking in your oven, taste the crispness of a cold apple, or hear a beautiful song.

Take the time to sit in the quiet while focusing on your breathing. Give thanks that your body is able to move by focusing on the work your muscles do while you walk. Let go of thoughts or worries that don’t serve you.

And while you’re being mindful, focus also on gratitude. Instead of saying “This line is too long; I’m wasting an entire afternoon waiting to pay for this darn stuff,” think “Wow, I’m thankful I have the money to buy these groceries to feed my family. Not everyone has that privilege.” When you’re able to find gratitude in difficult situations, beauty will start becoming more visible in the world around you.

Mindfulness and gratitude have scientific research to back them up. They have been shown to help people:

  • Increase resilience from trauma-induced stress
  • Recover more quickly from illness
  • Improve overall health
  • Ease feelings of depression
  • Increase positive emotions
  • Better deal with adversity
  • Build strong relationships
  • Be more alert
  • Make progress toward important life goals

Join cardiologist Dr. Mark Crandall for a free seminar, Mini-Medical School: Understanding Heart Failure and Coronary Artery Disease, on Thursday, February 19, at 6 p.m., at St. Luke’s Magic Valley. Registration is recommended.