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Stop and Smell the Roses

Mindfulness—the ability to be more aware and more present in the moment—is undeniably powerful. Practicing mindfulness can help us make healthier choices, lower and control our stress response, and even improve our relationships. The danger, however, is that mindfulness has become so popular that it might feel like a fad or a buzzword.

Mindfulness matters, and the research supporting it continues to grow.

The old saying “Stop and smell the roses” is not a trite, feel-good affirmation. Pausing to notice and take in nature is actually a facet of mindfulness that can potentially improve wellbeing. If you have followed the Habits of Health system for a significant period of time or have kept up on the weekly articles that we share here, this should not surprise you. There is already a wealth of evidence that green spaces and time in nature can improve many aspects of our health.

The exciting part of this new research, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, is that reaping the benefits of nature doesn’t necessarily have to mean taking a day off of work to go for a hike (though that is still a good idea).

Hollie-Anne Passmore, the lead researcher of the study, said, “This wasn’t about spending hours outdoors or going for long walks in the wilderness. This is about the tree at a bus stop in the middle of a city and the positive effect that one tree can have on people.”

Think about that. Taking a moment to pause and to notice the beauty in your surroundings is a very small choice. It may only take a few seconds to take a timeout from the bustle of your day to become aware of the nature in your environment, yet those few seconds have an impact. These pauses—even if they are brief—add up.

This is the Habits of Health philosophy at work! Small choices and small behaviors can add up to dire consequences or fantastic rewards. Walking to the far watercooler at work on one occasion won’t lead to noticeable change, but when you make that walk a routine that you repeat four times a day, five days a week, you can inject hundreds of extra steps into your routine.

Like any habit, becoming mindful of the nature around you will take practice. Setting a reminder in your phone to smell the roses might feel a little goofy, but having a few seconds where you take a deep breath and enjoy the vibrancy of a flower will help you on your journey to becoming a more mindful, healthier individual.

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