Stop. Take a Breath. Be Mindful
Mindfulness is the state of moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. It is human nature to sometimes live on autopilot. We have tendencies to rehearse the future — what will I do next? Or rehash the past — I shouldn’t have done that. Being mindful is noticing what is happening right now; without judging or trying to fix it. Being mindful and aware allows you to tune into signs and signals that your body and mind is sending.
“My husband sustained a severe TBI in Iraq and struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. A couple years ago when his symptoms were particularly severe, I was having a really hard time coping. Luckily, since I’m also a Veteran, VA was there for me. I started getting Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to help me better manage my stress. My psychologist encouraged me to try the VA Mindfulness Coach App between sessions, and it was incredibly useful. If I started to feel overwhelmed, one of the guided practices would help me calm down and center myself. My favorite guided meditation podcasts were Leaves on a Stream and Clouds in the Sky. The app is a great way to begin a mindfulness practice, and is totally free!”
Kayla Williams, Army Veteran
Benefits of practicing mindfulness include reduced rumination, stress reduction, boosts to working memory, less emotional reactivity, increased cognitive flexibility, and relationship satisfaction. When we are present, we can make conscious, proactive choices about every aspect of our health.
Practice mindfulness by maintaining the following activities
- Find a time during the day to sit quietly for 5 to 10 minutes, listen to your breath, and be in the moment. You may need to try meditating at different times of the day to see what works for you. Maybe it’s during your lunch break or first thing when you wake up.
- Repetition is very helpful in sticking to a mindfulness Try combining meditation with another existing habit. For example, mediate right after brushing your teeth every morning. Meditating in the same time and place each day will help create a habit.
VA is here to support your mindfulness practice
- Download VA’s guided meditation audio files and podcasts.
- Be mindful anywhere! Download VA’s Mobile App: Mindfulness Coach
- Visit http://bit.ly/2ALtoEO for tips on beginning a mindfulness practice and VHA resources.
Author: VA Women’s Health Services