A Month of Mindfulness

Every day is an opportunity to make small changes that can have a very positive effect on our lives. With a new year, comes the opportunity to set the tone for the adventures, big and small, that might come our way.

a month of mindfulness can lead to happiness and less stress

Last week, I mentioned that 2015 had been a terrific year for me, both personally and professionally, although that didn’t come without a cost. I also made the commitment to myself to be more mindful, and I’m excited to partner with Aetna in their #Mindful30 program. You could say; I’m the type of person that can use a little direction at times even when making the smallest lifestyle changes that can often have a significant impact on my life.

I want first to tell you about what happened Christmas day (just a couple of days after sharing my post on stress). Christmas day I woke up a bit more tired than usual, and after opening presents with the kids, I began not to feel well. By 11:30 am, I had full body chills and by noon I parked myself in bed with 103 fever for the next three days.

One of the things I realized while not leaving my bed for what seemed like an eternity is that it was clear that I needed to do something, for me, for my health. As moms (and parents) we often put everyone else’s needs first and then we are left there like the last man standing.

It’s obvious that I need to be more mindful of what my body and mind need. At a first glance, it needs time to decompress, to not think about deadlines, and to go offline to focus on the things that are happening on real time.

a month of mindfulness can lead to happiness and less stress

Mindfulness has been shown to help reduce stress and boost well-being. Struggling to meet the demands of the day, many moms often feel overwhelmed and run down (yes, that’s me!). Mindfulness is a fresh solution to stress, and yet most people don’t understand mindfulness (I didn’t until recently), its benefits, and how easy it can be to incorporate it into everyday life.

The first Mindful Tip:

Today, take a few moments to pause and be with yourself as you are. Start with paying attention to a few breaths as they move in and out of your body. Notice thoughts and feelings without self-judgment or criticism. And keep returning your attention to your breathing. This practice can help you have less anxiety and feel happier now and in the long run.  

For this first tip, I decided to try something I’ve felt funny about doing before: meditation. After looking online, I decided that a guided meditation app would be a good solution for me, so I wouldn’t fall back asleep while meditating myself.

I set my alarm 15 minutes earlier and brought my cup of coffee to bed (while the kids were still asleep), put on my headphones, and I listened to a 7 minute guided meditation. Although I was a little skeptic and felt silly at first, I was surprised how much better I felt after taking just 7 minutes to myself.

When I got out of bed, still at my usual time, my mind wasn’t racing at trying to recall the mental to-do list for the day. Instead, I went on to the kitchen to begin making breakfast for everyone and get our day started. I noticed that I was in a better mood, and I didn’t have as much stress over the morning, trying to get everyone up and fed, and get myself ready to go to the office.

The next day, I repeated the guided meditation, and I felt the same peaceful feeling over my morning. I definitely think I could continue to take 7 minutes to myself, every morning, to set a positive tone for the day.

In the next 30 days, I will be following Aetna’s simple tips for how to practice mindfulness. I will be posting some tips on my blog and sharing my experiences with you. Hopefully, through A Month of Mindfulness, you too can get inspired to make small changes that can help better manage stress and live healthier.

a month of mindfulness can lead to happiness and less stress

This post was sponsored by Aetna, who believes health is about the body and the mind. Stress can affect emotional and physical health, and reducing stress can boost wellbeing. As part of their #Mindful30 challenge, the views and opinions expressed in my posts on the topic of mindfulness are my own, not Aetna’s. To learn more about mindfulness, visit aetnamindfulness.com.

January 4, 2016

7 thoughts on “A Month of Mindfulness”

  1. Marion says:

    What app do you use for your am meditation?

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      I downloaded OMG Meditate and Headspace.

  2. Julie says:

    Prayer is another way to meditate and it helps morning and night to give thanks for all that we are blessed with. Your daily mediation sounds like a great idea. Anyone can spare 7-10 minutes a day for something like that!

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      You are right. I usually spend some devotional time once I get to the office but before I get started with my day.

  3. JoAnn O. says:

    Just reading this post undid some tension in my body. I once used mindful breathing and meditation to relieve work-related stress. You’d think I would apply these practices to my newly stressed life as a mother of two. Well, guess what? I don’t. I wake up so worried about everyone else before my feet meet the floor. That trend continues throughout the day. I always swore that I would make time for myself and sometimes put my needs first. I have failed myself in this and I think it makes me less cheerful and patient for my family. So in a sense, I deprive them when I deprive myself. Thank you for this great, inspiring post!

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      Oh JoAnn, I know exactly how you feel! I too feel like I had not put myself first for a while. We are in it together. Baby steps. We are far too important to our families to not take care of ourselves. Thank you!

  4. Ishy C says:

    I would love to learn about Mindfulness! Tell me more!

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