Posted by: Health & Lifestyle Coach Julie | 31/05/2011

Julie’s Notes: “Mindfulness, wellbeing and performance” by Dr. Craig Hassed MBBS, FRACGP PART 1

So a fellow coach-colleague of mine, Jeremy Stunt of Limbic Capital (thanks so much for sharing, Jeremy!) emailed me an article from NeuroLeadership Journal on mindfulness in February 2011 and I finally got a chance to read it! It was patiently waiting on one of four large piles on my desk. After going through and decluttering three of the four piles this past weekend (to read about my opinions on the positive benefits of decluttering click here) I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and was pleasantly surprised on the great content of this particular article. So pleasantly surprised, I’ve decided to blog about and share it here…

This article basically describes how “mindfulness” has been increasingly used as a tool for maintaining health (i.e. stress & weight management), improving performance (i.e. improving communication), and treating illnesses (i.e. anxiety, depression, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, addictions, etc.).

Being a true believer, practitioner, and coach of mindfulness-based theory, principles and practice I was really happy to read this article (as you can imagine)! This article basically validated the work I do and helped me realize that other people believe in the benefits of mindfulness practice as well. Sometimes, it can be lonely on the soap box trying to share and educate others on the whole “mindfulness” approach, especially here in Hong Kong. It was comforting to me that other healthcare professionals value and experienced the benefits of mindfulness in their job as well.

These are the “take-aways” or “ahas” from the article:

“…imagination, rumination, anticipation, exaggeration and dreaming – all forms of misperception – can all activate the fight or flight response.”

A prolonged fight or flight response to anything (it is all our own perception anyway…we perceive something to be stressful, annoying, frustrating, etc…whereas someone may not) is what causes chronic stress. Is there anything in your life you are constantly stressed about that you can let go?

For example, I’ve chosen not to let what my mother in law (MIL) say or do stress me out anymore. I’ve chosen to take 2 deep breaths instead and focus on other things. Why is it that my own mother can say the same things to me, nag me, and it not phase me at all? My mother’s words slide right off my back. It’s because I’ve CHOSEN to let the things my MIL say to me affect me. Now, I choose for them NOT to any longer.

“Thus, chronic stress and depression are risk factors for chronic illness, poor performance, cognitive decline and dementia. Mindfulness protects the brain from these damaging effects. Learning to be less automatically and habitually reactive to unhelpful thoughts [“My MIL told me 4 times tonight how soggy my meatballs are! I heard her the first time…she doesn’t have to remind me that I’m not perfect so much!”], emotions [“unworthiness”], and impulses [“stress over eating which leads to unwanted weight gain”] is possibly a prime way in which mindfulness helps to remodel the brain and thereby protect the body from the damaging effects of chronic stress and depression”.

I LOVE my MIL! Don’t get me wrong! LOL. This is just a past example that I used mindfulness to deal with. Thank goodness w/mindful meditation I’ve gotten past it (or at least I hope I did!). It’s just that initially, I had to get used to the way she said things and not take it too personally. Hey, if I can learn how to let things no longer stress me out…you can definitely also!

“The ability to pay attention [be mindful] is an important issue.”

The reason why it’s so hard now-a-days to pay attention is because there’s too much stimuli! Too many things to distract us…iPhones, BlackBerrys, TV w/1000 channels, iPads, computers, Kindles, etc. No wonder 1 in 3 Americans, despite dieting since the 70’s, are overweight! Too many distractions. Multitasking while eating is a badge of honor vs. something to be considered as one of several reasons behind mindless eating and weight gain. To really LOVE the food you eat, you need to be present and mindful. Several people consider themselves “food lovers”, if you really love food, give it the attention it deserves. Give YOURSELF the attention to enjoying the food you deserve.

“Apart from TV watching being linked to ADHD in children it also has cumulative effects on adults. The way we use our leisure time has an effect on cognitive decline. Those who practice more passive leisure activities are nearly 4Xs more likely to develop dementia…compared to those with active leisure time like reading, playing board games, playing instruments, dancing…[etc.]”

I’ll discuss more in future blog. That’s enough for now. I want to be mindful and process this information…and let YOU process, sit on, be mindful & reflect on it.  🙂

Hey, if you’re interested in attending a mindful living talk (how mindfulness can be used to improve sleep, become more fit and eat wiser) I’m presenting next Tues at a Self-Leadership seminar hosted by Mindful Eating Lifestyles & ProgressU. Click here for details.

Future events are always posted on Mindful Eating website and Facebook fanpage.

Julie Chiu, RN, MS(Hons), CHC, IC® is a certified health coach, seminar leader, trainer, nurse, and pioneer of mindfulness-based coaching in the Asia-Pacific region. She is Hong Kong’s only Certified Health Coach (National Society of Health Coaches), Intrinsic Coach®, Certified Intuitive Eating Pro® Counselor and Mindful Living Behavioral Specialist. She also serves on the professional advisory board of the National Society of Health Coaches and is a contributing author to “Evidence-based Health Coaching for Healthcare Providers: Program Manual”, 2nd Edition.

Julie is known as the “How To” Lady and helps clients gain more clarity on their passions, overcome obstacles, break free from unhealthy lifestyle habits, and reach their goals through individual coaching, corporate seminars, and group workshops. In addition to coaching clients, she writes for online and print media and conducts lectures and workshops on mindful eating, weight management, stress reduction, effective communication, changing limiting thought patterns, law of attraction, and evidence-based health coaching.

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