How good is that first sip of coffee in the morning? Or the sound of your favorite kid belly laughing? Or the feeling of the warm sand when you step onto the beach?
What if I told you that coffee was the answer to higher self esteem and life satisfaction?
Ok, that might be an oversimplification but SAVORING coffee can be the answer.
For all my coffee drinkers, I know you are finding this to be great news. For those of you who don’t drink coffee, don’t worry, it’s not the ONLY answer.
The concept of savoring has been hiding in the field of positive psychology and I came across it when I was researching burnout. Savoring is “attending, appreciating and enhancing positive emotion in one’s life”. It’s more than just gratitude (not to downplay the benefits of gratitude), it’s the active process of experiencing the emotion that comes along with it, the upregulation of positive emotion.
Take coffee for example. When I talk about the first sip of coffee, I think not only of the sensation of tasting it when it’s super hot, I think of settling in for my commute, taking some time to just drink coffee and wake up.
What’s crazy is, if we take some time to savor things, we can actually build up resilience to deal with the other stressful situations, which in turn can prevent burnout. It seems too good to be true.
So how do we actually do this? Savoring is the secret sidekick of mindfulness. We can’t savor something that we aren’t paying attention to, we have to draw the experience from our environment and our day to day lives. Sometimes it’s easiest to start with the past, to reminisce, not just remember, to really look for all the details and emotions in something good. We can call it memory mindfulness.The second option is savoring something now, in the present moment, paying attention to all the nuances of what makes something good. The third is savoring the future aka: anticipation. We have all experienced this when looking forward to something and talking to our friends about it: a great vacation, a wedding, the birth of a baby.
The best part is, it’s easy and fun to do.
Step 1: Take a minute. Yup, stop what you’re doing and take a minute to just be. Trust me, you have time for this.
Step 2: Think of something that is good in your life and let yourself really feel the full experience of it. It can be past things like the birth of your child, or finding out you passed your boards. It can be something right now, like having a few minutes of downtime to read this blog or appreciating comfortable shoes. It can be something that you are looking forward to, like vacation or having the contractors finish waterproofing your basement so it doesn’t ever flood again (maybe that’s just me).
Step 3: Bring up all the details. Smile to yourself.
Step 4: Make a list of some of these things to give yourself practice looking for them and experiencing them. Like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it gets.
What’s amazing is that research has shown that the positive benefit of savoring can be equal to the positive benefit of the original experience. Even better, savoring has been shown to increase a sense of wellbeing, increase resilience, increase a sense of control and counterbalance stress. I don’t know about you, but I could use all of those things.
So the next time you take that first sip of coffee, make sure you savor it.
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