Mindfulness Techniques for Social Wellness
While most people are familiar with the concepts of mental, emotional, and physical wellness, social wellness may be a new idea to many. Just as your emotional and mental health impact your physical self, and vice versa, your social relationships are also important for your overall health and well-being. Having strong social connections can actually improve your mortality risk, boost your immune system, and lower your levels of cortisol in the brain, all of which influence your overall wellness.
As social creatures, our brains are actually wired to seek connection with other humans. Our families, friendships, and partnerships are deeply important to our happiness and health and learning to cultivate these is an essential life skill. Here are some ways you can maintain social wellness using mindfulness and other attention techniques.(Source)
Know Yourself Better
When you are more mindful, you have a better understanding of yourself, what makes you tick, what triggers you into negative emotions, and what you value in life. Knowing all of these things can help you engage in more positive relationships that better match your values and interests, which can help you to grow and become more fulfilled. Knowing yourself well lets you share the most authentic version of you with others, which will ultimately allow you to have closer relationships, as well.
Be Present In Your Relationships
To build healthy, long-lasting relationships, you must be emotionally available to your friends. That is very hard to do when you are not fully present in your interactions with them. Being mindful when you are spending time with others means you are more fully present, you can be more vulnerable with them as you share essential parts of yourself, and you can stop second-guessing others’ motives and intentions.
Friendship is a two-way street, and the way you encourage others to be open and honest with you is to be that way with them. And when you need friends who are there to help you, you must also be there for them when they are in need. Friendship is about being there when the other person needs you, and when you are mindful during your time with your friends, they will notice this focus and attention, making them more likely to want to be there for you.
Your Emotions Are Not Their Emotions
Being mindful means listening and paying attention non-judgmentally, but it does not mean having to identify with and compare yourself to every emotion the other person shares. Mindfulness teaches you to notice when your attention is wandering, and when it starts to wander to your own emotions and issues, you know it is time to re-engage with the other person.
This can help you remain empathetic but not taking responsibility for the other person’s feelings. Authentic interactions with real friends should not leave you exhausted or miserable, and if you are practicing mindfulness, it is easier to maintain the healthy boundaries necessary for any successful relationship.(Source)
Deal With Conflict Better
Being mindful can help you understand why conflict arises, how to best manage disagreements with others, and how to better approach these types of situations in the future. Differences are inevitable, and there is not anything inherently wrong with conflict. Being mindful helps you engage more effectively with conflict resolution, keeps you alert to the signals that someone else is not handling your disagreement well, and lets you know when it’s okay to agree to disagree. Mindful practices’ focus on no judgments means you can be more patient and understanding with others who are not yet committed to this way of thinking and interacting.
There are two people involved in every relationship. Taking responsibility for your part in interactions and disagreements means you accept your role in the present situation. Being mindful can help you better observe and be present in the situation without judgment as well as provide you with the attention the other person deserves to come to a mutually beneficial outcome.
Being mindful in your relationships can lead to more healthy, worthwhile interactions and a stronger bond between you and your loved one. Being present in your interactions shows the other person you are engaged and care about their needs, and over time, this will bring you closer together.
How to Be Socially Healthy and More Mindful?
There are many simple techniques you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you learn to be more mindful and pay attention with more intention. The following are some hints and tips for learning to be more mindful in your daily life.
#1. Be mindful in your daily routines. When you are engaging in something you normally do on autopilot, bring awareness to your activities. Brush your teeth while focusing on each specific part of the process, really smell and taste the foods you are using to prepare dinner. Focusing during these times, on things that are already second nature to you, can engage more parts of your mind on the intentional aspects of mindfulness.
#2. Be mindful while you wait. Whether it is on hold, in line, or in traffic, we spend a lot of our lives waiting. Instead of focusing on the inefficiency of this time, or getting more frustrated the longer you wait, try using this time to be more mindful.
While you are waiting, engage in deep breathing exercises, being cognizant of how your breath fills your body, and how breathing helps you relax. Mindfully breathing is an excellent meditation technique and practicing this during times when you are otherwise doing little is an excellent way to practice.(Source)
#3. Start your day with mindfulness. As soon as you wake up in the morning, start your day with mindful practice. This helps your body and mind set the tone for the day, and it gets you ready to tackle what lies ahead. Engage in a short mindfulness meditation session to get your mind focused and start your day with the right habits.
#4. Practice breathing. Focusing on your breath is a great way to practice being mindful. Start by taking a slow, deep breath in through your nose while counting slowly to four. Hold this for one second, then slowing exhale your breath to the count of five. Repeat this three times in a row. This technique works as a great “reset” button when you are having trouble staying present in your daily life, as well.
#5. Go for a walk. As you stroll through your neighborhood, office building, or wherever you may be, notice everything your senses are detecting. What sights, smells, and sounds are entering your brain? What is your breath doing? How does your body feel? Be present the entire time you are walking, focusing on the moment and not on the worries or thoughts that may be entering as you walk.
#6. It is okay for your mind to wander. Your brain is naturally curious and seeks connections to things you have already learned, so it is very natural for your mind to wander while you are doing other things. The benefit of mindfulness is that you first are able to recognize when your mind is wandering or when your brain is distracted. The second benefit is you are training your mind to return to the present, to bring it back from the wandering, which is a learned skill.
#7. Practice in short increments. You cannot possibly stay mindful and fully focused on the present at all times all day long. Instead, focus on shorter periods of mindfulness several times per day, versus, say, a weekend dedicated to mindful work. Start small and build up, by shooting for 20-minute sessions at least four times a day is a good target to work toward as you practice your mindfulness techniques.
#8. Be mindful while eating. Meals are a perfect time to practice being mindful, as they present sensory input for multiple senses, and you can only eat for a finite amount of time. Focus on enjoying the eating experience, from the textures to the tastes and subtle nuances in each bite. Focus on how your body responds to eating this meal, when you start to feel full, and how this food makes you feel physically.
#9. Cue yourself to be mindful. Pick a stimulus you regularly encounter, such as when you walk through a specific doorway, when you hear a certain noise, or when it is time for a given activity. That is your cue to practice being mindful.
#10. Find ways mindfulness is supported in your community. Your local area likely has resources related to yoga, meditation, and mindfulness programs focused on stress reduction or weight loss. Find out what is available in your area, including community centers, bookstores, and healthcare centers.
The Power Of Mindful Practice
Mindfulness techniques have been a part of eastern practices related to meditation and yoga for centuries, and without the past two decades, these practices have become more popular as they seep into mainstream culture. Now that medical science is understanding and embracing the power of practices like mindfulness, we are starting to truly understand the benefits of this positive mental state of mind.(Source)
Living each day with a focus on the present, rather than the past or the future, allows you to respond to opportunities and experiences more fully as well as learn from the rich experiences life has to offer.
Practicing mindfulness provides you with the mental and cognitive space to gain some peace and quiet in a chaotic world, which can be healing and helpful. Mindfulness is being studied more and more by neuroscience and psychology, as we understand the power these types of behaviors can have on the brain, our emotions, and our bodies.
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