The world today has become so fast paced and hectic we can easily feel overwhelmed, stressed and drained at the end of the day. We are constantly racing around to events, scrambling to finish work for deadlines and trying to also be present for our friends and family. This can lead to very little time for us to stop and reflect. Often, shifting or changing our ways of thinking can lead to dramatic positive differences in how we are feeling emotionally. Mindfulness is a type of therapy and also a way of being. It is a state of focused attention on the present. Mindfulness can help you merely observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them. It is focused on being present in the moment and not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. There are several ways that we can incorporate mindfulness into our every day lives.
Take two to five minutes when you wake up every morning to focus on your breathing and notice how your body is feeling emotionally and physically before checking emails, logging online or worrying about what is coming next.
Check in with your body. Try to stop what you are doing and breathe deeply through your mouth and exhale slowly and fully. Let your shoulders, face and jaw relax and take a second to just notice any areas of tension in your body. Continue to breathe deeply and imagine your breath filling areas of tension and gently relaxing these areas with each exhale.
Take time during the day to be practice being fully present and acutely aware of what you are doing. Take a moment to really focus on the details around you. What are you hearing, smelling, seeing, feeling, tasting? Is there some small detail that you haven't noticed in the past because you have been rushing or your mind has been wandering?
Consider setting the idol screen on your phone to an image that will remind you to take a mindful breath or pause prior to using it. Set your email notification to a sound that can bring you back to the present moment when you hear it or consider turning off your notifications all together and checking your email at set times during the day pausing before to center yourself and take a few deep, calming breaths.
Try to avoid multitasking. Cognitive research studies show that multitasking drops efficiency by up to 40% and leads to cognitive errors and increased stress.
Practice mindful listening with friends, family and colleagues. Notice if you are truly listening and processing what they are saying or instead looking for a chance to jump into the concentration or thinking about what you are planning to say next. Truly focusing our attention on others will enhance our relationships and connections.
Take some time to immerse yourself in nature. When outside enjoying nature try to shut off or silence your iphone/ipod and take time to really pay attention to the natural world.
When you are eating try to sit down and really taste your food. It is easy to eat on the go or to quickly consume food but noticing the textures, tastes and smells of food will allow us to enjoy the flavors and can also prevent overeating.
During red lights or while waiting in traffic take time to breathe deeply allow fresh air to enter your body and exhale stress and tension.
Consider taking a formal mindfulness of meditation class. If you have never tried meditation try not to overthink it or judge the experience. The key to meditation is to focus on your breathing. There are also meditation apps that can guide you through your meditation practice.
Take a moment to think of something you are grateful for or something that went well during the present day.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that mindfulness is a practice based on being present in the moment and trying not to judge your feelings or actions. This takes time and practice. If you notice your mind wandering try to just notice this but not judge yourself or be too hard on yourself.