Here, this month’s guest, L.A.-based nutritionist Elissa Goodman, writes about the incredible healing power of mindfulness. She has seen its effects in her own life and in the lives of her clients, and here she shares her favorite ways to be mindful every day.
People are often surprised when they come see me and I include an audio of guided meditations along with my nutrition advice. This is because a lot of people who walk through my door have endured some type of trauma in their life. I have found that this trauma usually attributes to their illness, and in order to fully heal, mindfulness practice is key.
What you eat is an important part of being healthy, but the biggest obstacles to fully healing are the emotional ones we don’t know how to get rid of. They hold you back, and they can even be the cause of your not reaching out and asking for help.
We are all living with wounds (manifesting as anxiety, PTSD, depression, autoimmunity, weight, cancer, etc.) that can impact health just as much as the amount of leafy greens you eat or lemon water you drink.
There Is a Physical Effect of the Emotional Component
Trauma and stress change the way the body physically reacts. Studies have shown that people who experience childhood trauma are more likely to have depression, cancer, or other disease as an adult. It’s important that we learn to identify the triggers so that we can experience events that trigger our emotional trauma without sending our bodies into fight-or-flight mode.
Whether your reaction to trauma or emotional triggers is a full-blown mental breakdown or a little flinch of melancholy, you are not only releasing cortisol and adrenaline (which can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, immune suppression, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, insomnia, and more), but your trauma is triggered, and it stays in your body to potentially manifest as disease later.
Where Mindfulness Comes Into play
Mindfulness can be a remarkable tool. It helps improve many aspects of life. The intention is to help one stay present in the now, and in doing so help increase mental focus, enjoy life experiences, improve relationships, promote self love, and protect health.
The idea of using mindfulness-based interventions has become increasingly popular within cancer treatment, and I believe it should be used to treat all illness and disease. By improving your overall mental well-being, you can help prevent many types of illness.
Whether through deep meditation or restorative yoga, you can take part in a mindfulness practice by simply remembering to be present. Live in the moment, experiencing your surroundings. Spending time focusing on the past or future is useless and can hurt your healing process. Repeat the mantra “I cannot change the past. I cannot control the future.”
When you focus your energy on the present, you begin to make significant changes in your lifestyle and mindset. This helps you focus on what you can do to improve your situation instead of dwelling on what you could have done differently. Mindfulness helps remind you that you are in charge of today. You are going to do the best you can, today.
My Favorite Ways to be Mindful Every Day
- Focus on what makes you happy. It may have been said a million times before, but focusing on positivity and what makes you happy can completely change your emotional mindset. Try shifting your mindset to focus on new experiences that make you happy. Write down five things that you are grateful for as often as you can.
- Start your day without technology. Waking up with texts, emails, voicemails, and social media is no way to start the day mindfully. Wake up and breathe. Take time to mindfully prepare yourself for the day. Commit to a positive attitude; remind yourself that you will embrace all that comes your way.
- Do guided meditation. My energy healer has sent me some pretty incredible guided meditations to tune in to. During meditation, my mind is free from the stress of the day or worry for the future. I focus on my breathing and zone out while staying conscious.
- Take a few deep breaths. If you find yourself getting caught up, pause and breathe in for an eight count. Then release for an eight count. Repeat this five times. This practice will help you calm down during times of stress while observing your present physical and emotional state.
- Have a good laugh. Have you heard of the phrase “laugh to keep from crying”? It works wonders! Finding the humor in life releases feel endorphins and requires that you’re present in the moment.
- Do something kind for another. Research shows that those who live in service of others have lower rates of stress and depression. It also creates awareness and purpose and increases positive feelings toward yourself. It just feels damn good to do something thoughtful or kind for someone else!
Other great ways to practice mindfulness: take a walk in nature, take a nice long bath, read a good book, listen to good music, take a break from your phone, write a thank-you note to someone who deserves it. Each of these will help you live your best life.
Elissa Goodman released her first book, Cancer Hacks: A Holistic Guide to Overcoming Your Fears and Healing Cancer, last June. For more about Goodman, visit elissagoodman.com and read our profile of this inspiring lady.