For many people, a new year feels like a fresh start. Making resolutions gives them energy and hope. For others, resolutions feel like adding more items on a to-do list they may never finish. Whether you fall into one of those two mindsets, or somewhere in between, here's something to consider practicing for the year ahead: mindfulness.

Mindfulness can reduce stress and improve overall well-being. These are goals most of us can get behind. Let's talk about what mindfulness is, how it may help and what you can do to be more mindful.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is about being fully in and aware of the present moment. It involves focusing on what you're sensing and feeling right now, without judgment or interpretation.

A common way people practice mindfulness is through meditation — closing your eyes and quietly focusing on your breathing. But meditation isn't the only way. You can practice mindfulness in your everyday activities, like eating your breakfast. Focus on what you're doing and how it feels in the moment — what does the crunch of your cereal sound like?

To learn more about what mindfulness is, check out this video.

How mindfulness can help

Focusing your thoughts on the present moment can have benefits beyond the present. Here are just a few:

Physical and mental health. Mindfulness meditation can help lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep and ease gastrointestinal problems. Mindfulness-based therapies can also improve mental health, helping treat anxiety, depression, eating disorders and substance use.

General well-being. When focused on your present surroundings, it's harder to dwell on the past or worry about the future. You may be able to better spot the good things in your life as they happen. Mindfulness can even help you build positive habits. For example, you can make healthy food choices if you're focusing on your body and notice how certain foods affect it.

Mindful goals

Mindfulness can help you set and achieve your goals for the new year by focusing awareness on your intentions. And being more mindful can be a great goal itself.

Try:

A brief pause. Follow along with this short video to learn how to practice mindfulness meditation and focus on your breath.

Guided practice. This self-care app can help you dial down stress and worry. You can find activities to walk you through mindfulness practices.

A deeper dive. Take a video course on mindfulness.

A quick chat. Get on-demand phone support. from a mental health specialist. They'll listen, help address your concerns and tell you about Employee Assistance Program (EAP) options you may have to support your mindfulness and mental health goals.

For even more tips on being mindful, you can explore the mindfulness topic center.

A little mindfulness at a time

Some people are excited by the prospect of being more mindful. Other people think mindfulness isn't for them because their mind wanders. But the truth is even people with a lot of experience practicing mindfulness often lose their focus. Start small. When you notice your mind wandering, just reset and try again. You can still get the benefits of mindfulness.

 

Sources

HelpGuide. Benefits of mindfulness. Updated November 1, 2022. Accessed December 6, 2022.

Mayo Clinic. Mindfulness exercises. Published October 11, 2022. Accessed December 6, 2022.

National Institutes of Health (NIH). Mindfulness for your health. Published June 2021. Accessed December 6, 2022.