One of the biggest lessons I have learned from this class is how your mental health is just as important (if not more important) as your physical health. It seems as people are finally starting to see the impacts mental well-being can have on your life. A major tool to achieve mental well-being is mindfulness, which is one of the biggest lessons I have learned in this class. The week 8 reading, Contemplating Mindfulness at Work: An Integrative Review, explained how essential mindfulness is. It basically said that mindfulness increases the well-being of every single aspect of your life: attention, cognition, emotion, behavior, and physiology, performance in the workplace, teams, leadership positions, and relationships. When Dr. Warren Brown came into class and spoke (in his very mellow voice I might add) he really showed us all that we need to take more deep breathes and realize what life is all about instead of getting caught up in the hustle of things. He said that “our thoughts tend to run us” and mindfulness tries to reverse that so we run our own thoughts. This has been proven to help in academia and overall happiness! I believe when Dr. Reina came in, he talked to us about the scenario of multitasking while walking. This really hit home with me because it was so true. I do it myself and see it from every student as they are walking to class. He explained a story where someone you know walks by and gives you a friendly wave and a smile but you are too caught up in your own head to notice and little do you know that friendly wave and smile would have made your day. He really stressed what it means to be physically present as well as mentally, and what you could miss out on if you are not mentally present. Dr. Warren Brown and Dr. Reina’s lectures really struck me in this way. These are the most meaningful lessons to me because they seem to apply the most to my life. My life seems to be the craziest roller coaster of ups and downs and new responsibilities flying at me every way. Mindfulness is not only a tool to help me control everything that is on my plate, but it is a tool that will keep me positive throughout the process. It keeps me grounded and my tendency to sweat the small stuff and lose sight of the bigger picture has already started to decline.
The exercise that stuck out to me was the Eat, Move, and Sleep Exercise. I had the sleep portion of the assignment. We were asked to record our sleeping patterns, including: when you were tired, how long it took to fall asleep, what makes sleep easier, barriers to sleep, how much sleep you got and how rested you feel. I noticed I was recording a lot of the same things each night. A big barrier to sleep was me looking at my phone, and a way to make sleep easier was reading before bed. However, I continued to look at my phone and I rarely read before bed. Why is this? I know that scrolling through social media is mind numbing and most of the time I am not reading half of the stuff people say and yet I keep on scrolling. Before I know it, 35 minutes has gone by. I know I enjoy reading a good book and it helps me fall asleep, but I barely read! Physically typing this information into a sleep journal helped me realize that I need to change this bad habit. I am committed to changing this habit, and I am excited to see the effects in the future!
I am going to commit to applying these insights to my life in many ways. I think I have already made a few changes in my life by trying to overall be more of a mindful person, and I can already see the benefits from it. I try to pride myself on taking a few moments each day to slow down and do something I really enjoy as a break from all of the chaos, because this allows me to reset and calm down. I can also see that from what I have learned in this class, I do not take negativity (whether it is feedback or events that happen to me) as hard as I used to. Being mindful has helped me not take things as personally and stress out over things that are very small. I want to work up to sitting down and actually going through a 10 minute mindfulness practice at least once a day because I want to see how large of an impact it can have on my life. In my professional life, I want to do a mindfulness practice before every soccer practice and game in the future. I have heard of a lot of players benefiting from this so I think it is time to try it for myself.
I plan on sharing the information I have learned through this class verbally for the most part. I love talking about the science of happiness to my family, friends, and teammates. I am also going to recommend this class to my teammates in hopes that one of them takes it! For our final project, we shared what we learned about mindfulness to a local middle school class, and that was a lot of fun. I think they learned a few things, and spreading the word about something that can make everyone happier actually made me happier too! I also plan to post more quotes and pictures about being happy and mental health in hopes that people that see it will smile and/or look into mental well-being more.