Greetings! Are you ready for a fresh start? As a mother, wife, business owner, social advocate and friend to many, I understand how life can get in the way of taking care of yourself, so I’m bringing the self-care to you! 

Wellness is essential to the soul. When I think of wellness, I think of a sound mind, a healthy body and a fulfilled spirit. I think of women who don’t feel the need to be everything to everyone, but instead focus on taking the time to enjoy the life they have worked so hard for. I think of men who don’t measure themselves by their occupation, but by how their mere presence strengthens communities. I think of children who have their basic needs of food, shelter, love and a quality education met consistently. I believe that communities are healthy when our children and elderly are well. 

There are many paths to wellness, but how will you know when it is achieved? My belief is that when what you think, what you do and how you feel are in sync, then you are well. When you can be in a moment and enjoy it without regretting the past and worrying about the future, then you are well. One tried and true method to achieving wellness is to practice mindfulness.

Why Practice Mindfulness?

The average person spends most of the day multitasking to the point where they are resentful, forgetful and exhausted. Task after task makes the days seem to go by without meaning and the months without memory. Often, individuals spend so much time operating on auto-pilot, they literally miss out on life. They are unable to remember what the year, month or even day before was about. Individuals can remember achieving goals or accomplishing tasks, but the journey of it all is lost in a void of multitasking. Ultimately this results in the loss of a sense of purpose, sadness, loneliness, depression, anxiety and chronic stress, which leads to physical disorders. Although the brain is complex, it requires regular maintenance in order to operate at its full capacity. Mindfulness is likened to closing the apps running in the background on a smartphone to increase speed and performance. Slowing down and living in the moment can improve the function of the mind, body and overall life experience.

The Benefit of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is useful for many problems. Current cognitive behavioral interventions using mindfulness focus on the following issues: mood (anxiety, depression), intrusions (ruminations, racing thoughts, memories), behaviors (binging, addiction, self-harm, violence), problems of relating (attitudes, empathy) or problems of self (self-consciousness, self-hatred). Studies have shown that when people don’t spend enough time in the moment there is an increase in depression and anxiety. Mindfulness has been shown to improve decision-making. For example, people may hold on to anger or remain in a failing relationship for too long. Another example is if someone orders an expensive meal, is full halfway through the meal, but continues to eat due to an underlying problem of letting go. Sunk-cost bias is present in so many areas of dysfunction, such as obesity, compulsive-hoarding, poor interpersonal relationships and dead-end careers; however, mindfulness can alleviate these issues. Mindfulness meditation can increase resistance to sunk-cost bias. This translates into an overall improved quality of life.

Living in the moment is necessary in order to appreciate life. It requires acceptance of things as they are, nonjudgmentally. It means appreciating the small things and appreciating life’s reality without missing out on what is occurring in the present by wondering what could or might be. Mindfulness means being present and actively participating in life. A brief period of mindfulness meditation cultivates awareness of the present moment and helps counteract deeply rooted bias and/or habits. There is power in the practice of mindfulness and if you want a fresh start, begin here. Start now. Breathe deeply and be well. 

Dr. RJ is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified Zumba instructor who lives and works in the South Fulton area. Her practice is located at 3915 Cascade Road in Atlanta, and her Zumba classes are held weekly at the William Walker Recreation Center. Visit AskDrRJ.com for more information.