NCHPAD Mentor logo, the words "MyScorecard: Mindfulness" are below it. The text overlays a colorful background.

We’re often told to think positively when we feel sad or stressed, but it’s not uncommon for our minds to have negative thoughts.

Negative thought patterns exist because of early survival skills everyone develops to prevent us from harm. This pattern could be from a perceived danger, learned experience from a previous negative situation or life uncertainties.

If left unchecked, negative thought patterns can create deeper anxiety, worry and anguish. But what tools can we use to control our thoughts and emotions?

In the NCHPAD MENTOR program, we focus on multiple domains of wellness through the acronym MY SCORECARD. The first letter in MY SCORECARD, M, may be the most important. It stands for “Minding your thoughts and emotions.”

So how can we mind our thoughts and emotions? Mindfulness, one of the main parts of the MENTOR program, can help.

Here are some of the benefits of Mindfulness from Emily Hornsby, NCHPAD Mindfulness Curriculum Coordinator:

Mindfulness and meditation help us to be more open and accepting of the difficulties and joys of life – just as they are. Scientific research indicates that the practice of mindfulness and meditation can have the following benefits:

1. It changes the brain so that the individual experiences more happiness and well-being.

2. Improves attention.

3. Lowers stress.

4. Improves thinking and quality of life.

5. Positively changes responses to pain.

6. Lowers anxiety.

7. Improves mental fatigue.

8. Increases calm and focus.

9. Improves the quality of life for caregivers and survivors.

10. Improves the ability to attain goals.

11. Enhances self-resilience.

With these benefits, it is easy to see how practicing mindfulness and meditation can positively contribute to all the other domains of wellness, from being more present in our relationships and our time in nature to knowing when we need to practice self-care or rest and relax. Mindfulness and Meditation can provide a portal to our spiritual practice, and it is a self-care skill available to all of us. Being present with mindful eating and exercise can help us with our weight management and overall health.

When we look inward through mindfulness practice and meditation, we can see with more clarity what our core values are, and we are better equipped to focus our attention on contributing to others as-opposed-to being fixated on worrying about the future or ruminating about the past. Mindfulness and Meditation are tools that can help us with all the wellness domains in MY SCORECARD.

Mindfulness can help prevent negative thought patterns that turn into reactions. Awareness of a negative thought pattern and stopping it from becoming an emotion can prevent a negative reaction.

Living well and managing the day-to-day stresses of difficult life’s situations like finances, emotional setbacks, relationship difficulties and job burdens start by placing the mind in the right mindset or simply staying in the now.

Think of Mindfulness as an anchor in your life that you can return to when stress, anxiety and negative feelings start to impact your life.

Watch some of our Mindfulness videos here on our YouTube channel.

To learn more about the MENTOR program and join today, visit our MENTOR page.

A laptop with many colorful sticky notes on it and around it

By Emily Hornsby, NCHPAD Mindfulness Curriculum Coordinator

We have all heard of multitasking, but do you always like to multitask? Do you ever feel too busy? Trying to complete several different tasks at once can sometimes be overwhelming and even cause anxiety.

Multitasking is doing more than one task at the same time. We drive and talk on the phone, or we talk on the phone and clean the house, or we even type on our computers while talking on the phone or on a Zoom call.  

Multitasking is necessary for many people, and multitasking is even considered an admirable trait! But is it always good?

Have you ever been frustrated, anxious or stressed out when you are multitasking? Do you ever move from one thing to the next without completing any of the tasks? Do you make more mistakes when you multitask? You aren’t alone.

Recent studies have shown that multitasking can be less effective and productive than previously thought. It can decrease the accuracy of certain tasks.

When we shift from one task without completing it to another, the brain needs time to focus on the new task. If we are constantly switching from one task to another without completing them, this can increase the amount of time it takes to complete the task. This often causes frustration, anxiety and stress.  

And when we are frustrated, anxious or stressed, we are unable to do our best work or be our best selves.

Single-Tasking to Reduce Anxiety and Improve Productivity 

Productivity experts suggest that the best way to accomplish something well is to direct all our attention, energy and time to completing one task before we move on to the next one. This is also known as “single-tasking.”

Harvard researchers recently tracked the activities and thoughts of several thousand volunteers, and they found something really interesting. Almost one-half of the time, our thoughts are not related to what we are currently doing; our minds are wandering. We are not present.

The researchers also found that we are happiest when we are present and focused on exactly what we are doing – whether having a conversation, moving down the street or doing the dishes. In other words, single-tasking.

So, what are some tools that will help us to be able to rest our attention on one task at a time and be happier? Mindfulness and Meditation.  

Mindfulness is simply paying attention to the present moment without judgment.

You can practice mindfulness in your everyday life by resting your attention on whatever task it is that you are doing. This can be anything from cleaning the house, brushing your teeth, washing dishes or having a conversation with someone.  

Being fully present with the experience that is going on right then and there without stressing about the future or over-thinking about the past is mindfulness.

Meditation is just a formal way of practicing mindfulness. In meditation, you direct the focus of your attention deliberately without judgment. Here are some helpful meditation tips if you’re just starting out:

  • Focus on your breath and have that be your anchor.
  • When thoughts, feelings and emotions come up – AND THEY WILL – simply notice them and even name them to yourself.
  • Let your thoughts go like clouds in the sky or waves in the ocean and return to your breath. 

Scientific studies have shown that mindfulness and meditation improve your attention, lower your anxiety and stress, and increase calm and focus.

This simple practice of mindfulness and meditation will help you be able to single-task. Try focusing your attention on one thing at a time to reduce your anxiety, frustration and stress.

Today, try completing one task before you begin another. Even if you can’t single-task all the time, pick some tasks in which you can rest your full attention on that task until you complete it. See how you feel!

Thank you and see you soon!

If you would like more information about the MENTOR program or Mindfulness and Meditation please contact the National Center for Health, Physical Activity and Disability at or call 1-866-866-8896.

A green graphic with the words How to practice mindfulness during the holidays on it with the NCHPAD Connect logo and an illustration of a person's head with a heart over the mind.

By Emily Hornsby, NCHPAD Mindfulness Instructor

The holiday season can be an exciting time of the year, but it can also be overwhelming. Travel, parties and events, making time for friends or loved ones, and added financial responsibilities are just a few of the stressors this time of year. If you are feeling overwhelmed by this added stress from the holiday season or just need to pause, a few simple mindfulness practices can help you pause, relax and enjoy the holiday season.

  1. Mindful pausing: Pausing for a moment or two to notice what you can perceive through your senses, moving from thinking into direct experience. 
  2. Mindful breath: Taking three breaths mindfully as an invitation to relax and create space between your thoughts.
  3. Heart hug: Gently placing your hand over or near your heart space (or imagining holding your hand to your heart) can cause the release of oxytocin, one of our “feel good” hormones. Feel or imagine the warmth of your palm on your body, and take a few intentional breaths. Over time, your body learns this response and a quick gesture will work.
  4. Self-hug: Place your arm or arms over your chest or another part of your body and give yourself a hug, or imagine giving yourself a hug. This action has the same effect as a heart hug. 
  5. Other gentle touch: Gently rubbing your hands or fingers together, placing your hand on your thigh, or placing your palm against your cheek. Some people find a light tapping with their fingers at the center below their collarbones reassuring. 
  6. Tuning into sensation: If your movement is limited, you might feel the air as it hits your skin on the face or another part of the body. Experiment to see what works best for you.
  7. Spend time in nature to become more grounded and reconnect with yourself. You may want to try leaving your phone or electronic device at home when you spend time outdoors so you connect with your surroundings. Hear the birds sing, listen to the wind blowing through the leaves on the trees, or notice birds and other animals.
  8. Practice Mindfulness Meditation to help you rest your attention on the present. Sit quietly and focus on your breath, another anchor-like ambient sound (background or surrounding noise), an object in the room, or another part of your body like your hands or feet. When thoughts, feelings and emotions come into your awareness – and they will – gently notice them. You can even name them to yourself – thoughts are here, planning is here, fear is here, anxiety is here – and then let them go and return to your breath or other anchor. It’s just like training a puppy repeatedly; you return to your breath or other anchor. By practicing mindfulness meditation, you are retraining your brain to be in the present rather than worrying about the future or ruminating about the past.
  9. Practice gratitude by either mentally noting what you are grateful for regularly or keeping a gratitude journal and writing down a few things you are thankful for.
  10. Don’t forget to do what you enjoy: Exercising, playing a sport, playing a musical instrument, listening to music, painting, sculpting, gardening, spending time with family and friends, or even watching a favorite movie or TV show are all beneficial. It’s easy to get caught up in the to-do list of the holidays and forget to do the things we enjoy. 
  11. Above all else, be kind to yourself.

Interested in more Mindfulness content? Check out our Mindfulness series on our YouTube channel.