Studies are showing that more Americans are reporting increases in insomnia, stress, anxiety, and depression. This summer, take charge of your wellness by inviting in more mindfulness and presence.

What is mindfulness anyways?  According to the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, mindfulness is “paying attention to present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is.” When we are able to become present and be fully in the moment, research has demonstrated a reduction in symptoms of anxiety, stress, fear, depression, and an overall increase in wellness.

Where can you begin?

Start a gratitude practice.  Gratitude has been shown to increase positive emotions, get a better night sleep, have a stronger immune system, and in general, people who practice gratitude are able to show more compassion and kindness in their lives. Gratitude goes beyond the typical ‘thank you’ to reflecting on what are you thankful for in your life.  There are moments in our lives that call in gratitude easier than others- for instance, if you have been waiting for a promotion for a while and finally get the call that you got the job!  Yes, you are thankful.  Or its your birthday and your best friend threw a surprise party for you, amazing and overwhelmed with gratitude!  It’s also the smaller things as well- things that sometimes we overlook.  The person that holds the door open when we are carrying our sweet toddler, coffee, purse, and all the things- thank you!  To your friend who knows you are having a season that is not easy right now and sends you a text to check in- thank you!  When you start this practice, it becomes easier to notice the range of things that exist in your life that you can find gratitude for.

To create greater mindfulness and ease in your life, create a daily practice of reflecting on the things that you are grateful for in this moment.  Or maybe you create a gratitude jar so your whole family can participate, and then at the end of the year open the jar up and reflect on all of the things that you were grateful for together.  Maybe you decide to write a letter a week to a person you are thankful for in your life, and tell them why.  If we all were aware of the influence and impact we had on each other’s lives, in the good ways, what a sweeter world we could live in.