The 5 R’s of Mindfulness: Incorporating mindfulness into everyday life

Studies show the practice of mindfulness can improve your health and grow your brain!

Use the Five R’s of Mindfulness to remember and practice mindfulness in your everyday life.
Use the Five R’s of Mindfulness to remember and practice mindfulness in your everyday life.

Research shows the benefits of social and emotional learning for both youth and adults. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), efforts that promote social and emotional learning improve young people’s academic success and overall health and wellbeing, while also reducing negative behaviors such as alcohol and drug use, violence and bullying. Learning to navigate stress and distressing emotions like anger, anxiety and fear is an important part of developing emotional resiliency.

One way for children, youth and adults to develop self-awareness and the ability to cope with and navigate feelings of stress is through the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a process of active, open, nonjudgmental awareness. It is paying attention in the present moment with openness, curiosity and flexibility. Neuroscience and psychological research suggest that the intentional practice of mindfulness improves the immune system – as well as increases gray matter in the brain involved with memory processes, emotional regulation, empathy and perspective taking. 

Mindfulness educator, Chris Frasz of northern Michigan, recently presented a session for health educators at a Michigan State University Extension conference. He shared what he called The Five R’s of Mindfulness as an easy way to remember and practice mindfulness in our everyday lives:

Recognize: Be aware of yourself. Recognize your thoughts and your own internal dialogue and when you’re caught up in negative, fear-based thinking. Practice noticing your mental state.

Relax: Explore ways to slow down, connect with your breath and relax your mind and body. 

Review: Gently review your options and ways that you might respond to a difficult situation. Ask yourself, “What can I control? What can I change (and not change)? Do I have a choice?"

Respond: Practice responding from your deepest, wisest self while letting go of fear and worry about the past or future outcomes.

Return: Check in with yourself and bring yourself back to mindfulness and an awareness of the present moment with openness and curiosity.

Frasz also suggested that when our minds naturally go to our “to do” list and other intrusive thoughts that take us away from our mindfulness practice, that we gently tell ourselves, “Not right now” as a way to quiet our thoughts, calm our minds and bring ourselves back to the present moment.

A growing body of research shows the benefits of mindfulness to our physical, mental and emotional lives. Whether it’s the intentional practice of meditation or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs (MBSR) or the practice of everyday mindfulness, you can explore ways to improve your health and wellbeing and bring more joy into your life through the practice of mindfulness. 

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