“The heart beats, the lungs breathe, and the brain thinks. It’s all about how we observe those thoughts."
— Dr. Carolina Osorio
Your brain may feel astray for partaking in societal norms. Working from home, negative thoughts, planning your future are a few examples where it is easy to stumble on the line of healthy habits and detrimental micro-actions. Carolina Osorio, MD, psychiatrist at Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center (BMC), practices daily mindful habits and shares a few that are beneficial in creating a positive outlook and encourage staying present.
Mindfulness is the ability of one person to live in the present. It strengthens the ability to contemplate and, in stillness, observe what is happening in a given moment.
The day-to-day lifestyle practiced in the U.S. is action-packed and busy. Osorio says we are becoming more anxious, stressed, and miss a lot in life, so it is important to observe our environment and recognize the positive.
“Our brain is naturally wired with a negative bias,” Osorio said. “If we do not consciously contemplate a moment to see the positive, our brains will likely run on a negative feedback loop.”
Osorio says it’s important to understand what kind of person you are, and the journey of mindfulness is extremely personal. She references the Myer-Briggs personality test to help better understand what habits will work best for you.
It is important to find the middle ground between planning for the future and being present. The current day influences future outcomes, so the integration of both mindsets encourages a positive lifestyle. Osorio emphasizes that future happiness cannot exist if excessive daily moments are overlooked.
Working off a “To-Do List” can be a good gauge for success in a day or week for some people. According to Myer-Briggs, there are two of many types of personalities. The Judging (J) type organizes beforehand to outline what their day will consist of. The Perceiving (P) type handles tasks in a day as they appear. Checklists for the P personality may not be as beneficial. They may not mark everything completed at the end of the day due to working on other tasks that made themselves present, causing stress or low self-worth for not checking off each box.
Staying away from electronics in the evenings will influence healthier sleep patterns. Osorio suggests shutting down all screens three hours before bed to soothe your central nervous system. Instead, reading books, listening to calm music, preparing a comfortable room, and practicing meditation are ways to settle down. For those intimidated by meditating, Osorio reminds you it is not about having an empty mind but recognizing your thoughts and letting them pass.
“The heart beats, the lungs breathe, and the brain thinks. It’s all about how we observe those thoughts,” she says.
Osorio also encourages her patients to spend 10 to 20 minutes outside at sunrise and sundown. This will adjust your circadian rhythm and influence restorative sleep.
The new work-from-home standard has generated mixed emotions among Osorio’s patients.
“Some people like this style and find it easier to separate themselves,” she said. “Others really struggle with the idea of working and living in the same space.”
Many occupations associate various aspects of life to work: cellphone, laptop, and now your home. This can lead to burnout due to nothing feeling personal. Osorio says it is extremely important to have an identity outside of work and a corner in your home dedicated to relaxation.
Osorio herself has experienced burnout and implemented five-minute breaks throughout her day to battle overwhelming feelings. She steps outside and practices a breathing exercise to recenter herself and continue with her day.
Osorio says speaking positively to and about yourself is like going to the gym. “You are developing networks in your brain that work with positive thinking. You will become more optimistic, leading you to become more grateful and hopeful.”
Practicing a gratitude journal will help with recognizing positivity throughout the day. Osorio says this practice can be grown but to start with noting three things you are grateful for every morning.
A balance must be found when incorporating all habits in your lifestyle. Osorio says it is possible to be too optimistic and out of touch with reality. When a negative moment comes along, it is essential to acknowledge it. Utilizing these tools will guide you to move forward.
To learn more about Loma Linda University BMC, its providers, services and treatments, visit lluh.org/behavioral-health.
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