Mindfulness is defined as being present in the moment in a nonjudgmental way. Becoming mindful in our lives expresses itself in multiple ways:
- Being aware and accepting of present experience
- Bringing focus, awareness and attention to the present moment
- “Single-tasking” rather than multi-tasking
- Being wholeheartedly present here and now
- Appreciating the present moment rather than wishing it away
- Being attentive to what you are doing rather than operating automatically
- Nurturing attitudes of acceptance and non-judgment, which adds warmth, friendliness and compassion
You can practice mindfulness in almost everything you do.
Informal Practice – involves reminding ourselves throughout the day to focus our attention on whatever is happening in the moment, which increases our ability to respond effectively. A simple example is becoming more mindful of our movement, which may lead to taking the stairs instead of the elevator or bicycling instead of driving. Practicing mindfulness in this way involves experiences like:
- noticing the sensations of walking when we walk
- noticing the taste of our food when we eat
- noticing the clouds and the trees as we pass them
- noticing the feel of soapy water on our hands when washing dishes
- focusing our attention on our friends and family when we’re with them
Opportunities for informal mindfulness practice are infinite. At every moment, when it’s not necessary to be planning or thinking, we can simply bring our attention to what is happening in our sensory awareness.
Formal Practice – involves setting aside time to go to the mental “gym.” Unlike informal practice, in which we’re accomplishing another task while practicing mindfulness, formal practice means dedicating a period of time entirely to cultivating mindfulness per se. Mindfulness meditation is a formal practice that has been studied scientifically. This practice involves choosing an object of attention such as the breath or another sensation and returning our attention to that object each time the mind wanders. Through this formal practice we develop a degree of concentration that allows us to focus closer attention to any physical or emotional sensation, such as an itch, ache, sound or feeling. Regardless of the object of attention, we practice being aware of the present experience with acceptance.
Why Practice Mindfulness?
Do you ever find yourself worrying about the future, feeling angry or sad, feeling guilty or ashamed, getting upset about physical pain, or just feeling bored or stressed? Sometimes the feeling is more subtle and you may just feel “out of sorts.” There may be times when you get taken over by anxiety, depression, addictions, pain or other stress-related symptoms that make it difficult to function. Emotional suffering comes in all forms. Mindfulness is a way of relating to life that holds the promise of both alleviating our suffering and making our lives richer and more meaningful.
The point of being mindful is to develop a close relationship with your own mind. You become more familiar with what you are thinking and feeling, and less reactive to the thoughts, emotions and cravings you have. Mindfulness is a practical way to develop our ability to see the world around us more clearly and understand ourselves and others better, so that we might live a more joyful and fulfilling life.
Mindfulness practices have been around for thousands of years. Research in the past twenty-five years has proven that mindfulness can help people with a vast range of emotional and physical disorders, which has led many people from all walks of life to be more open to the practice including hospitals, businesses, governments, athletes, schools and the military.
Stress has been cited as a cause of more than 70% of all family doctor visits for illness and 66% of Americans report having trouble focusing at work because of stress. Job stress costs U.S. industries more than $300 billion per year. These costs include missed work, employee turnover, decreased productivity, and medical, legal and insurance costs. Mindfulness programs have been shown to help reduce many stress-related symptoms and improve overall health, including outcomes such as the following:
- 80% fewer hospitalizations for heart disease
- 83% improvement in decision making skills
- 60-70% fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression
Benefits of Mindfulness
Meditation practice can yield all of the following benefits:
- Strengthened immune system
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Reduced blood pressure
- Balanced hormones
- Improved digestion
- Help maintain weight
- Increased ability to relax
- Reduced fatigue and anxiety
- Increased energy
- New coping skills
- Better brain function
- Sense of calm
- Decreased depression
- Help with relationships
- Enhanced listening skills
- Focus on goals and meaning
Just how can the simple practice of mindfulness provide all of these positive benefits? Paying attention to the present moment can improve the functioning of the body and brain in two specific ways. Mindfulness:
- Helps You Be Less Reactive – When you slow the mind, you think more clearly. You respond thoughtfully instead of simply reacting. Many people use the same coping mechanism over and over, repeatedly reacting the same way without thinking. Although this coping mechanism may be a healthy one, such as choosing walking or jogging rather than food or alcohol when frustrated, being mindful allows you to be intentional about healthy choices. Being mindful also helps you be more aware of how you unconsciously and consciously react to stress so you can find new ways to deal with the situation.
- Helps Relax Your Body – Short-term effects of mindfulness on the body are similar to the benefits of relaxation. When you are in a mindful state, you experience a decrease in perspiration, a slower heart rate, and changes in alpha waves in your brain. These physiological changes are evidence that your body is going into relaxation mode. Your body can’t be relaxed and stressed at the same time so, when you are relaxed, you think more clearly and tend to make wiser decisions.
Article from The StayWell Company, LLC
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 cup diced strawberries
- 1 cup diced jicama
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded
- Juice of 1 large lime
- Salt, to taste
- Tortilla chips, for serving
- In a medium bowl, combine blueberries, strawberries, jicama, cilantro, red onion, jalapeno, and lime juice.
- Stir until well combined.
- Season with salt, to taste.
- Serve with tortilla chips at room temperature or chilled.
Yield: 3 cups
Note-this salsa is also great with grilled fish or chicken. It is best eaten the day it is made.
Nutrition Facts for ¼ cup: 21 calories ∙ 5 g carb ∙ 0 g protein ∙ 0 g fat
Recipe provided by Bethany Soderlund, UWGB Dietetic Intern
With Summer around the corner, let’s talk Farmer’s Market! The Farmer’s Market offers an abundant selection of fruits and vegetables. Visit the Green Bay Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays to support your local farming community and provide you and your family with nutritious produce.
Fresh fruits and vegetables come in a assortment of colors which means they contain a diverse selection of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants needed to protect the immune system and prevent diseases including cancer. Produce also contains fiber. Fiber helps keep you fuller longer, aids in normal digestion, and regulates blood sugar levels. Fruits and vegetables offer our bodies a variety of health benefits.
Purchasing fresh produce might be a concern because they have a shorter shelf life. Keep produce fresher longer by storing in the refrigerator which slows the ripening process. Washing produce right before use also helps to increase the shelf life. If you do find yourself with expiring fruits and vegetables, try some of these ideas below:
- Make a veggie stir-fry.
- Grill veggies for a side.
- Serve fresh cut veggies with hummus, guacamole or bean dip.
- Dip apple slices in peanut butter.
- Prepare a savory salsa with tomatoes, onion and peppers.
- Toss a sweet salsa together with berries, mango and pineapple.
The Farmer’s Market is a perfect time to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. There are so many delicious ways to use your Farmer’s Market purchases. Discover the colorful and nutritious opportunities at this year’s Farmer’s Market beginning May 31st!
Article provided by Bethany Soderlund, UWGB Dietetic Intern
- 1 1/2 cups black beans (1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well)
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup quick oats
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup, agave or honey
- 1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Combine all ingredients except chips in good food processor, and blend until completely smooth.
- Stir in chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan.
- Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut. If they still look undercooked, place them in the fridge overnight to firm up.
Nutritional Facts for one brownie: 115 calories; 15g carb; 2.5g protein; 5.5g fat
Yield: 12 brownies
(Recipe adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie)
Recipe provided by Bethany Soderlund, UWGB Dietetic Intern
So maybe you’ve heard the buzz about plant-based diets. Well, this is one trend where you don’t want to be left out. The current United States Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend we make half our plates plants. This is illustrated in the current model, MyPlate. This means more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based protein. Plant sources of protein include beans, peas, lentils, and nuts. Plant-based foods are often cost effective and offer a variety of health benefits.
The advantages of eating more plants is not only helpful on the waistline but also on the wallet. Choosing plant-based sources of protein for a meal is cheaper than purchasing meat and poultry. Even replacing one meal a week with a meatless meal is beneficial. Plants offer multiple health benefits as well including vitamins, minerals and fiber. The more variety in color of the produce, the more abundant the vitamins and minerals in your diet. Be sure to include dark greens like spinach and broccoli and red/orange produce such as carrots, sweet potato and strawberries. Fiber is another nutrient needed in our diets. It regulates blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol, increases satiety and helps maintain normal digestive function. With all these benefits, why not try some plant-based recipes?
You’ll be happy to know that adding plants to your diet is easier than you think! Beans can be pureed and mixed into desserts such as brownies and cookies. Add lentils and beans to soups and casseroles. Make stuffed peppers with beans, rice and tomatoes. Try making your own veggie burgers with beans, corn, and chopped mushrooms and sweet potato. Snack on carrots, cucumbers and celery and dip into hummus, bean dip or guacamole. Prepare homemade salsa with tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro and lime juice. These are just some of the many ways to increase plants in your diet.
Planning meals around plants such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans, peas, lentils or nuts can help you meet the MyPlate goal of making half your plate plants. Choosing meatless meals will help you save money and plants provide our bodies with nutrients needed for optimal function. While it might seem daunting to increase the plants in your diet, making small changes at a time will help you be successful. With so much variety and nutritional value, what’s not to love? Join the plant revolution today!
Article provided by Bethany Soderlund, UWGB Dietetic Intern
Due to the great interest in the onsite health screening event on Wednesday, April 26th, a second onsite health screening event has been scheduled for Thursday, September 14th.
2017 On-Site Health Screenings at UWGB:
- Wednesday, April 26 at 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
- Thursday, September 14 at 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Both screenings will be held in the University Union Phoenix Rooms. There are still a few appointment times available on April 26th, or you can sign up for the September 14th screening. (You would only attend one event to complete your health screening.)
To register online for an on-site health screening appointment:
- Log in to wellwisconsin.staywell.com
- Click on Programs tab
- Click on “Learn More” in Screenings box
- Click on Register Now
- Select the date you prefer using the calendar (4/26/17 or 9/14/17)
- Select the time for your appointment
Please see this blog post (https://blog.uwgb.edu/hr/2017/02/annual-on-site-health-screening-registration-open/) for details, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (920) 465-2203 with questions.
Looking to clean up your eating habits? This webinar will provide an overview of nutrition and detail the basics so you can improve and simplify your eating habits, resulting in a healthier, happier you!
Date: Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Time: 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Location: Cofrin Library, 7th floor, room 735
No need to RSVP – just mark your calendar to join us, and bring your lunch!
You could also participate in this webinar at your workstation if you prefer – please visit wellwisconsin.staywell.com and go to Webinars to register.
Wellness webinars highlighting various health and well-being topics will take place the 3rd Wednesday of each month. All webinars will be recorded and available to Well Wisconsin Program participants on the wellness portal after the event date.
To access the wellness portal, you must be an employee, retiree, or enrolled spouse/domestic partner enrolled in the State of Wisconsin or Wisconsin Public Employers Group Health Insurance Program.
Do you know what SCOBY is? Well, we not only learned that it is an essential part of making Kombucha, but also got to see the SCOBY up-close and smell it! Kombucha is a fermented tea drink typically made with tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast, which may provide health benefits. Jolene Sell, Registered Dietitician with Chartwells, gave us simple step-by-step instructions how to brew your own Kombucha, as well as samples of different flavors of Kombucha to try. For those of us who haven’t tried Kombucha before, we were pleasantly surprised how good it tasted – especially Jolene’s home brewed peach vanilla flavor! Thank you to Jolene Sell and Chartwells for this interesting and fun lunch ‘n learn!
Thank you to Laurel and Nick from the Kroc Center for visiting their alma mater on Wednesday, March 8th to talk with us about Nutrition, Fitness and the Kroc Center! Laurel shared information about nutrition, such as asking for dressing, gravy and cream sauce on the side when dining out (so you can control how much you use). Did you know that some small bags of chips are actually two servings, so we would need to double the amount per serving on the nutrition label (i.e. calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium) if we eat the whole bag? Have you heard about substituting applesauce for half the called-for butter, shortening or oil in recipes to make it healthier? She also explained that 3,500 calories equals about one pound of fat, so we would need to burn about 3,500 calories more than we take in to lose one pound. In general, if we cut 500 calories from our typical diet each day, we’d lose about one pound per week! Laurel also made peanut butter energy balls for us to enjoy!
Nick shared interesting information about the Green Bay Kroc Center, which is one of 26 Kroc Centers nationwide, funded by a generous donation from Joan Kroc, wife of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. The Green Bay Kroc Community Center opened in 2011, and offers a fitness center, aquatics center, gym with indoor track, group fitness classes, swim lessons, art and music classes, youth dance lessons, senior classes, youth day camp, and an after school program. UWGB employees can receive 15% off monthly membership costs, a free two week trial membership, and a waived registration fee because UW-Green Bay is part of the Corporate Connections Program. Please see their website for more information.