By BitMED Provider: Joseph Accursio MD
Let’s talk philosophically for a few minutes. Believe it or not, your ideas about healthcare profoundly impact the way you go about your daily life. Your health plays an undeniable and immediate role in your function at work, at home, during exercise…in everything that you do. And that’s why it is so important for us to change the way we think about health and healthcare.
If you follow health news in any form or fashion, you’ve likely seen the latest buzzword, which gains increasing popularity everyday – the word is “mindfulness.” There are many definitions and attachments to this word because it’s the latest thing. But what exactly is mindfulness? And how can you use it to improve your health and performance?
Boiled down to the simplest definition, mindfulness can be explained in two words – PAY ATTENTION! This sounds rather silly, but in hindsight, evidence of people not paying attention to what their body is telling them and how they’re feeling is quite common. Let me give you some examples:
• The holidays roll around. You hear constantly around the office that people have “put on a few pounds” over the holidays and they just have get back in the gym to take that weight off. But every year, it’s a few more pounds MORE than it was last year.
• Life gets busy. Responsibilities temporarily increase and the time to prepare and eat meals takes a back seat to convenience. You swear that you’ll get back to “eating right” sooner or later, but before you know it, a LONG amount of time has passed and you’re still eating from a drive thru window. You’ve been more tired “lately” and just can’t seem to catch up.
• How often have you heard or made the statement about “getting back in shape”? Whether due to things noted above or another life circumstance, it’s pretty common to hear people discuss returning to a prior state of health. In most cases, people have been so “out of shape” for so long, that returning to the mythical “in-shape” is unlikely.
These examples are not meant to be all inclusive, but to bring awareness to the fact that we generally only pay attention to our health when something has gone wrong and has been affecting us in significant ways.
Here is the core idea behind mindfulness, which is again, paying regular attention to your health. If we gave as much thought to our health as we did to so many electronic devices, we would have a lot less problems and be much better off for it. Ironically, this is the best use of fit-bit type devices. Though research has been less that stellar regarding fit-bit use, they do provide a conscious reminder of how much we move and other indications of health and wellness.
Admittedly, paying attention to something that’s so obvious and easy to forget is an exercise in discipline. The discipline of reorganizing priorities. The first step to change and the initial period required to ingrain a positive habit is the most difficult. Here are some suggestions to help you achieve a better health awareness or mindfulness:
1. To start with, you’ll have to write this down! Make sticky notes, program your phone with alarms, keep a journal…whatever it is that helps you to remember. DO IT! BE DILIGENT! There is little in your day that is more valuable than your overall health.
2. You will need a support system. As human beings, change is extraordinarily difficult without external support. We simply don’t have it in us to make big changes without help. Recruit some help! People who are invested in you – close family or friends. Even better, people in whom you are invested, and will undertake a journey of health consciousness alongside you. Support is CRUCIAL to success!
3. Don’t be afraid to fail. You will fail. Often. That’s the way of it. But don’t see failures as the end. See them as a small challenge that is overcome by the next success. Keep at it! As the maxim goes, success is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. THERE’S NO SUBSTITUTE FOR WORKING AT IT!