We can all easily get caught spending too much time thinking, over-correcting, planning, worrying, and predicting which can be incredibly draining on our emotional wellbeing and also impact physical health. Today’s society is incredibly fast paced and most of us take no break from the rat race and end up resenting the demands of day-to-day life. I hear you! Instead of resenting a forever expanding to do list, try ‘stepping out’ from the race momentarily to re-focus and recharge. Practicing mindfulness can help draw your attention away from what you have to do and let you be present in the moment and check in with yourself.
Some of you may have heard of mindfulness, but for those who haven’t:
Mindfulness defined: skills of awareness, attention and remembering – a form of mental training that develops a reflective rather than reflexive mode of responding to the external environmental and internal thought processes.
The reported benefits of mindfulness are wide and varied with most benefits stemming from letting go of worry, negativity and distraction:
- Reduced feelings of stress, worry and anxiety
- Increased memory and cognitive abilities
- Reduced feeling of anger and resentment
- High levels of life satisfaction
- Improved self-esteem and sense of autonomy
- May assist sleep, immunity, aches and pains
Incorporating Mindfulness into your day
Thankfully there is something for everyone, no matter how time poor. Here are some simple ways to add mindfulness to your day:
Breathing Exercise & Yoga
- Start your day with a mediation or deep breathing exercise, whether it be for 5 minutes whilst in bed waking up or for 20 minutes on a yoga mat
- Choose yoga as your activity for the day and finish your practice with 5 minutes of relaxation and deep breathing or a gentle walk outdoors
- Get up from your desk during the day and have fun with some yoga poses and deep breathing to shake off fatigue
- Set your alarm a few times during the day and practice deep breathing for 3-5 minutes
Being free from distraction
- Sit in the park or go for a gentle walk during a lunch break or coffee outing
- During the commute home, look out the window, not at the screen and appreciate your surroundings
- Leave your phone at home when going for a walk or out to the shop, wait in line without being attached to the screen
- Aim to check emails every few hours, not every few minutes if this is a possibility for you!
- Cook more! I believe getting creative in the kitchen and cooking with intuition is almost in itself a form of meditation; it’s the perfect distraction which when followed by mindful eating can really assist with improved mental wellbeing.
Most of us eat a minimum of 3 times daily so mindful eating can be a wonderful opportunity to practice mindfulness. Here are some tips on how to turn a meal into a mindful practice:
- Sit down to eat in a stress free environment away from distraction
- Pay attention and be thankful for the food you have in front of you
- Notice how it looks and smells
- Chew food well and put cutlery down between bites
- Feel the food in your mouth and think about each flavour you are tasting
- Stop eating when satisfied
The more you practice, the easier it will become and in no time, mindfulness will be completely effortless and an enjoyed part of your daily routine!
Keng, S et al 2011, ‘Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A review of Empirical Studies,’ Clin Psychol Rev, Vol. 31, No. 6, pp. 1041-1056.