Mindfulness can be an excellent habit for anyone to develop, but some research suggests women get more benefits from a mindfulness practice when it comes to reducing negativity and boosting self-esteem. In one study, a team at Brown University tracked the meditation habits of a group of 77 students for 12 weeks and discovered the women saw improvements in every facet of mindfulness skills, including self-kindness and being able to notice emotions without judgment. What can we learn from this?
Coping With Challenges Differently
Over the 12-week course on mindfulness traditions, all the students spent more than 40 total hours in meditation, regardless of their gender. However, only the women demonstrated a statistically significant positive psychological outcome, as measured by changes in their outlook from the beginning to the end of the class. Is this because women’s brains are wired to respond more favorably to mindfulness, or is there something else at play? The answer might not come down to nature, but nurture.
While anyone can see personal growth by exploring emotions and getting to know yourself better, our society has placed uneven cultural expectations on women and men in this area. Women may respond better to mindfulness because there is not as much of a stigma associated with being introspective and taking time to be intentional about their feelings. In contrast, men who do the same thing get told to “man up,” as if the desire to become more self-aware is a form of weakness. The resulting inability to process emotions in a healthy way can lead to toxic masculinity.
Adding a Mindfulness Practice to Your Routine
Learning how to focus and quiet your mind is valuable in a world where stressors are abundant, and taking opportunities to practice self-care are more valuable than ever. Women juggle many responsibilities in life. Being the best possible spouse, daughter, mother and friend, while also wanting to excel in your professional career, can create difficulties with your work-life balance. Mindfulness can help you feel less overwhelmed.
If you need help getting started, here are some easy ways to incorporate more mindfulness into your life.
- Schedule brief meditation sessions throughout each day: Set a timer for between one and five minutes. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or recline. During your mini-meditation, focus your whole attention on your breathing, and nothing else. If you find your thoughts wandering, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
- Try transformational housework: For most of us, daily chores are part of life. But when was the last time you focused on the tiny details involved in doing tasks like sweeping or washing dishes? If you’re like many people, your mind is a million miles away while you do these things on autopilot. Next time you have a chore to do, think of it as a mindfulness ritual. Work on being fully in the moment. For example, if you are folding laundry, focus your attention on the color and texture of each item of clothing. Notice how pleasant it smells and whether it is still warm from the dryer. Move through the task with intention.
- Slow down your mealtimes: When was the last time you fully immersed yourself in the sensory experience of eating? Often, we eat meals while reading, working or watching TV. We don’t pay attention to the flavors or aromas of our food or how enjoyable it is. We fail to take a moment to be grateful for the nourishment it brings our bodies.
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