Do you notice what your food really tastes like, see the colours on your plate, feel the warmth of your cup when you drink a coffee or feel the cool temperature of what you drink? For most of us we are just to busy, eating is part of our daily function to keep us going with all the things we need to do. We often eat in automatic pilot, not really consciously aware of what we are eating, why, what it tasted like, how full we feel. We might eat out of habit, boredom or to soothe our emotions when we feel stressed and anxious rather than hunger affecting our weight and waist size.
Taking the time when you eat is really important to help us be present. Use your senses to notice the colours, take time to notice the taste, aroma and texture. Just for a few minutes, it may transform what you eat, when you eat and why you eat!
What we drink also affect our mood, energy levels, sleep and waistline. Being dehydrated increases anxiety levels. Simply being mindful of sipping a glass of water and noticing how much water you have had each day (ideally 8 glasses) may help improve mood and energy levels. How much caffeine do you drink? A tea or coffee in the morning helps us to get going. But too much caffeine and drinking caffeine after mid day keeps our body in a state of high alert, adding to the already high circulating levels of Cortisol, which affects our energy, sleep and mood.
Over time and with daily practise just these little changes can make a difference to your brain. You are training your brain it is ok not to always think about doing things, it is ok to be in the moment, to be fully present. If you do this without judgement acknowledging when your mind wanders that, that’s OK too but focusing back to your senses the neural pathways in the brain begin to change. The part of the brain (pre frontal cortex) that deals with ration logical thinking becomes more active. When this part of the brain is active we are generally in a brighter mood. The pathway to the brains internal alarm bell (amygdala) that fires up every time we feel anxious, overwhelmed and fearful becomes weakened. We start to feel lees reactive to situations, events, people that may have affected our mood. In turn we feel and behave in a calmer way, feeling less anxious, less overwhelmed but still with everything around us staying the same! We can’t change the world but we can change we react to it. If we change our reactions we become more resilient, things affect us less, we can sleep better, feel motivated to eat healthily and exercise regularly and feel both mentally and physically well.