Mindfulness is a practice that can help you feel more grounded, less stressed, and more aware of the good things in your life. It could even make you happier. The best thing about mindfulness is that it is not complicated: it simply means paying attention, not only to your surroundings, but also to your physical and emotional reactions to them. Here are a few ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your daily life.
When you first start trying to be mindful, a good tip is to schedule it into your day. Set aside five minutes first thing in the morning to sit alone with your thoughts. During this time, do not read, use your phone, or listen to the radio. Simply sit still and pay attention to how your body and mind feel today. What thoughts are swirling in your brain? Do you feel tired or refreshed?
You will probably notice this practice helps you feel calmer, but that the feeling soon disappears during your commute or when you arrive in the office. Reconnect with this mindful state by scheduling another five minutes during your lunch break and another five minutes after work for mindfulness practice.
Take Mindful Walks
You do not have to only practice mindfulness while sitting quietly. Taking a walk is a great opportunity to be mindful while getting some exercise. It does not matter whether you walk in a rural or urban setting.
Do not listen to music or use your phone during a mindful walk. Instead, pay attention to the sound of your shoes on the sidewalk and the noise of the traffic passing by. Notice the color of the leaves on the trees or the names of the stores you pass. Can you smell fresh cut grass or fast food? How does your body feel while you walk?
If you are in the habit of eating while working at your desk or watching TV, eating mindfully could help to redefine your relationship with food. During your next meal, put away all distractions and focus purely on the smell, taste, and texture of your food. This is likely to result in you eating more slowly and noticing earlier that you are full.
Be Mindful While Waiting
Life includes plenty of occasions where you have to wait for something to happen. Perhaps you have to wait for a bus or wait in line at the grocery store. Rather than seeing these situations as a frustrating waste of time, try to view them as opportunities to practice mindfulness.
While you wait, scan your body: how are you feeling right now? Do you have sore feet or a racing heart? Are you slouching or standing with good posture? Pay attention to your surroundings: what can you see, hear, and smell?
Escape Your Smartphone
Many people find mindful living difficult because they have a tempting source of distractions right at their fingertips. The desire to reach for your phone whenever you feel bored or stressed is natural; your brain knows that seeing a new like on your social media post or text from a friend will temporarily boost your mood. However, checking your phone too often can reduce your connection with your surroundings and lead to a high-stress state known as information overload.
When you notice a craving to pick up your phone, observe the urge without blaming yourself for being weak: you’re simply human. Tell yourself that you can check your emails or notifications when you have finished the activity you are mindfully engaged in. Delaying gratification in this way can help you gain control over your daily habits and achieve a feeling of personal empowerment.
photo credit: Andressa Voltolini