Mindfulness is a method for reducing stress. It focuses people on the details of the present moment. It helps them avoid worrying about things in the past or future that they can’t change.

Thoughts and emotions relate to and influence each other. People dealing with a serious illness often spend a lot of time worrying about the future or reliving the past. Sometimes, these thoughts are helpful. They can motivate people to make plans or solve problems.  Yet, people often worry about events in the past and the future that they cannot change. These worries can increase their stress and anxiety without solving any problems.

Mindfulness is a way to stay in the present moment instead of being stuck in the past or future. Mindfulness has two parts:

  1. Being aware of the present moment
  2. Not judging the present moment

The goal of mindfulness is to engage your senses fully in the task at hand. You can be mindful at any moment or doing any task. This includes daily tasks such as eating, showering, or walking. For example, if you practice mindfulness while eating, you focus on the current task (eating). You notice all of the details of the food and your participation in the meal. In this way, you do not spend the meal worried about the past or future. Here are the steps you would follow:

  • Focus on the colors and textures of the food
  • Take a moment to smell the food and enjoy the aroma
  • After taking a bite, notice how the food feels in your mouth
  • Chew slowly and pay attention to the motion and feeling of chewing
  • Do not judge the food or yourself. In addition, you do not spend the meal worried about the past or future.

Mindfulness isn’t always the best method for dealing with stressful thoughts or situations. For example, focusing on the present may not help you during an uncomfortable medical procedure. In this case, a technique that distracts your thoughts away from the present moment may be better. The best time to use mindfulness is when your thoughts of the past or future are increasing your anxiety. It is also not very useful when trying to solve problems.

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Mindfulness: reduce stress by living in the moment