FOCUS ON YOU

Using mindfulness in working toward your goals

Introducing the first in a series of stories about how you can use the myStrength wellness portal and app to enhance your emotional well-being

Thoughtful-looking woman holding a coffee mug

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Now you can use the myStrength wellness portal and app to help enhance your emotional well-being. It's free as part of your mySupport program. Learn more about how you can use this resource to support your mind, body, and spirit in a new series of stories that will appear in HR NewsWire.

At the beginning of the year, many of us focus on setting goals for ourselves, be it eating healthier, exercising more, attending to our finances, improving relationships, or handling our stress in healthier ways. The new year brings with it the hope of change, and it is easy to focus on all the things that we wish we were doing better.

Sometimes we can begin to get overwhelmed by trying to make so many changes at once, and we lose momentum in our motivation to take healthier steps. This can lead to our putting pressure on ourselves, focusing on what we are not accomplishing, and sometimes speaking unkindly to ourselves for not being able to follow through on the goals we are hoping to achieve.

Mindfulness activities can help us move through this process differently by helping us cultivate patience and compassion for ourselves as well as being more intentional in our actions throughout the day. This enhanced awareness may help us take positive steps toward our health and well-being without inciting the harsh inner critic that lives in many of us.

Mindfulness is an ongoing practice that teaches us skills to cultivate awareness and acceptance of our thoughts, bodily sensations, and emotions, and it can help us become more intentional with our actions in our daily life by bringing our focus to the present moment.

Research on mindfulness has increased rapidly in recent years and has shown many benefits, including increasing resiliency to stress, expanding compassion toward self and others, reducing focus on negativity, and improving physical and mental health. With a mindfulness practice, you may find yourself slowly moving toward healthier habits as you are more present in noticing how your choices make you feel, as well as developing more compassion for yourself on the days that these healthier choices are a little more difficult.

Starting a mindfulness practice is as simple as setting aside a few minutes a day to focus on your breathing or taking an activity you do daily, such as showering, and allowing yourself to be fully present throughout the activity, focusing on every physical sensation rather than drifting away from the experience with thoughts.

For guidance in beginning a mindfulness practice, Johns Hopkins employees and their family members may download the myStrength app, available in iTunes or Google Play with the access code JHU. This app has a module called Mindfulness and Meditation that provides activities and guided meditations that you can do at your own pace. The module also can be accessed online at mystrength.com. With time, you will find that taking a few moments a day to care for yourself in this way will impact your life on many levels, helping you to be healthy in body and mind.

For additional support in setting goals and cultivating self-care, Johns Hopkins employees and their family members can use their free 24/7 access to confidential counseling and referral services through mySupport by calling 443-997-7000.

Erin Gillard is a mySupport employee assistance clinician at Johns Hopkins.

Posted in Health+Wellness