Boost your mental health with mindful eating this holiday season


With Halloween season ending and the holiday season upon us, food and candy abound. Consuming these sweet treats can bring additional benefits, aside from that sugar rush getting you to the finish line of finals. Mindfully eating, or non-judgmentally engaging in all of your senses when you eat, is not a diet fad. Rather cultivating mindfulness while you eat can actually bring about psychological benefits such as reduced depression, increased body esteem, and increased emotional control.
Mindful eating is an easy, quick, and enjoyable way to incorporate more mindfulness into your daily routine. Mindful eating is all about bringing your whole self and all your senses non-judgmentally into the eating process. Jon Kabat Zin originally created this exercise with a raisin, but Halloween candy or other foods work just as well.
Here is how you do it:
1. Take your candy and just hold it in the palm of your hand or between your finger and thumb
2. Take time to really focus on the candy. Really look at it with all of your attention, you can even imagine you have never seen anything like this before. What does the wrapper look like, where are the crinkles and shadows, where does the light hit it, what are the fine details of this candy?
3. Touch it, turn the candy over between your fingers, explore the texture. At this point you can unwrap the candy and continue to explore all the visual and tactile aspects of it. You can even close your eyes to enhance your ability to feel the candy.
4. Hold the candy beneath your nose and smell it. With each breath in, take in all the smells, aroma, or fragrance that may arise. As you smell your tasty treat, notice if anything happens to your mouth or stomach. Does your mouth water or stomach growl?
5. Now slowly bring the candy up to your lips, notice your hands and arm and how you know exactly where to position them. Gently take a bite or put the whole candy in your mouth but don’t chew. Notice it in your mouth; explore it with your tongue. What flavor or texture is present?
6. Now you can chew your candy. Notice how and where it gets chewed in your mouth. As you chew, take stock of the experiences you may be having, the sensation, the taste, the texture, how you feel chewing. Don’t swallow yet, observe how each moment with the candy in your mouth changes the texture or taste. Notice how the candy itself changes.
7. Now swallow, observe how the intention of swallowing leads to the action of swallowing. What sensations do you notice here?
8. Finally, see if you can notice the feeling of the candy moving down into your stomach. Take stock of how your body as a whole feels after having completed this exercise.
Simple practices like these can really increase your level of mindfulness. Mindfulness has been shown to be related to increased well-being, academic performance, and positive psychological effects. Incorporating little bits of mindfulness throughout your day adds up. You can start this practice at any time anywhere. The more you practice the easier this will become.
Remember to give yourself gentle compassion as you practice mindfulness and throughout your day. If you are struggling with mental health, reach out. Student Counseling Services is here to support you. Ten sessions with licensed professional counselors are already included in your tuition. Call 806.651.2340 or come by CC 116 to make an appointment.


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