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Health & Balance

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What Mindfulness Can Do for You

Why Practice It?

Being mindful helps you notice when you're on autopilot. That lets you change what you're doing in the moment, rather than regretting it later.

Let's say you find yourself eating a bag of chips in front of the TV -- your evening pattern. Being mindful can help you break free from the autopilot trance and take a moment to make a different choice. You could trade the chips for carrots, or decide to skip TV and take a walk around the block instead.

Mindfulness can keep you in touch with your goals and hopes. Focusing on the moment keeps you from reacting quickly and doing what you usually do without thinking about it -- like feeling stressed and grabbing a king-size candy bar.

Mindfulness and Mental Health

Learning to be in the present moment can help you take a step back and better manage stress or cope with serious illness.

Mindfulness can also help ease anxiety and depression. Many people who practice it say they relax more easily, have a greater enthusiasm for life, and feel more self-confident.

Mindfulness can also help you:

  • Be fully engaged in activities, which can help you connect more deeply with others
  • Pay more attention to your automatic thoughts and whether they help you feel better or feel worse

How You Can Use It to Lose Weight

You can also use this practice to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

With food, you have multiple chances to be mindful:

  1. Do a gut check to see if you're really hungry before you eat.
  2. Focus on each bite, savoring its flavor and texture.
  3. Notice if what you're saying to yourself is helpful.
  4. Do another gut check to see how full you are. That way you can stop eating when you feel full instead of mindlessly cleaning your plate.

Exercise Your Mind

Want to exercise more? Mindfulness can help you enjoy activities. That, in turn, will make you more likely to stick with them.

How do you exercise mindfully?

  • Tune in to how your body feels. Are your muscles tense? Do you feel antsy?
  • Does the activity you're doing make your body feel good while you're doing it?
  • If the exercise targets a certain body part, how does that part feel while you're doing it?
  • Notice your thoughts about how you're moving. Are the thoughts encouraging?

When you focus on your body, it can motivate you to move more throughout the day. You might also be more appreciative of your body and be kinder to yourself.

Want to be more present in your daily life? Just put your mind to it.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on November 06, 2013
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