A New Year for Mindfulness

It’s the start of 2024, and you may be wondering how did the last few months of 2023 fly by so fast! The last few months of the year can be fast paced and overwhelming at times. Which can make it difficult to participate and be mindful in our daily lives. While leaving one year behind and beginning a new year can be overwhelming, it can also be a time for rejuvenation. A new year gives us an opportunity to reflect, and set forth with new mindful intentions for ourselves. By setting new mindful intentions for the year ahead, we can get back to participating fully in our goals (school, work, family, friends, self care, etc!).

Mindfulness is defined as “paying attention with a focused awareness to the present, without judgment or clinging to the moment.” In DBT, we learn about mindfulness skills, including:

  • What skills (observe, describe, participate)
    • What you do when you are practicing mindfulness
  • How skills (nonjudgmentally, one mindfully, effectively)
    • How to practice mindfulness

Mindfulness skills can be practiced anywhere or anytime, as long as you are intentionally paying attention to the present moment. For many people, this can be very challenging. It may feel uncomfortable at first when we start to bring awareness to the present, noticing what’s going on internally and in our surroundings. However, bringing awareness to our thoughts, emotions, sensations, and surroundings can help us accept the moment as is, or move onto problem solving when needed.

There are several ways you can engage in a mindfulness practice. This could be through mindful meditation while sitting, standing, or laying. We can practice meditation by either “focusing the mind” on particular sensations, emotions, thoughts, or our breath. Alternatively, we can practice meditation by “opening the mind”, paying attention to anything that comes into our awareness. Others may enjoy practicing mindfulness through spirituality, writing, drawing, or music. You can also practice with a mindful form of movement like yoga, dance, martial arts, tai chi, or going on a walk with your dog. Starting small, and increasing your mindfulness practice by 5 minutes a day can have positive impacts on our overall health, well-being, and create a sense of freedom and resilience to cope in times of stress.

A new year brings about a new beginning and time for change. Increasing your mindfulness practice and creating new healthy habits for yourself is a great way to start off the new year, and set an intention for the next 12 months!

Written by, Gina Hesp ASW

Photo Credit: Lena Kestler on Unsplash

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