Mindfulness is an essential skill that can help reduce stress in your life. We are all so busy with our daily lives that it’s easy to forget about being mindful since our mind is focussed on all the things we need to get done during the day.
Since April is Stress Awareness Month, we wanted to share some simple ways you can use mindfulness in your daily life to bring more awareness into your activities and help to reduce stress.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a word that’s been thrown around a lot in the last decade, especially in the work world. It’s been used in the context of meditation, yoga, and other activities that can help people live a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.
These days, people are constantly bombarded with information and activities, and it’s no wonder why we’re feeling more stressed and overwhelmed than ever.
Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of the present moment. It will help you become more in tune with your thoughts, feelings, sensations and surroundings. This awareness will allow you to appreciate the here and now, so worry less about what happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow.
3 ways to practice mindfulness throughout your day
It is easy to introduce more mindfulness in your day, below we share three ways you can start incorporating mindfulness in your regular activities and quickly start benefiting from less stress and greater awareness. Soon you will start realising that stress is a natural by product from living the mindless way and wonder why you didn’t start practising mindfulness sooner!
Mindful eating is a way of paying attention to what you’re doing while you’re eating. Turn off all distractions such as the TV and your mobile and focus on savouring each bite. How does it smell? What colour is it? What is the temperature? What’s the texture like?
By eating slowly, you become aware of your senses and body’s signals so you can fully enjoy the experience, as opposed to rushing through a meal because you have more important things to be getting on with.
It also means being aware of how full you feel, and how hungry you are. Mindful eating is a good way to get in touch with your hunger and fullness cues. Over time, it can help you get in the habit of eating only the amount of food that you need to feel full and satisfied.
While mindful eating can be practiced at any time, it is particularly helpful at times when we are craving unhealthy foods or at times when we are stressed out.
Mindfulness and exercise
Exercise is a great way of boosting your levels of fitness and keeping your body healthy. But if you’re not careful, exercise can also cause you to feel breathless and leave you feeling exhausted. This means that it’s easy to fall into the trap of exercising mindlessly, allowing your body to take over so that you can simply get the workout over and done with as quickly as possible.
This is a bad approach to take, because when you exercise on autopilot you miss out on the many health benefits that can only be gained from being mindful when you move your body.
Exercise mindfully to take control, get the most out of your workout and achieve the fitness goals that you desire. Start by focussing inward, focus on your body’s sensations, not the outside world.
Also focus on your breath, and simply notice your inhale and exhale as you work through your routine. Set realistic goals, when you exercise on autopilot, you’re more likely to choose the shortest, most convenient path to your destination.
Unfortunately, this type of exercise is often far from the most beneficial, and can actually cause you to become less fit over time. This is because when you exercise on autopilot, you tend to focus on the most obvious external cues, such as how your body is feeling or how much energy you have left.
However, the most beneficial thing that you can do when you exercise is to take the time to deeply understand your body’s internal cues and how they correspond to your goals. You can then work towards achieving your goal with the tools that you have access to, without allowing the outside world to become the focus.
An example of this could be following a specific routine and doing a certain number of reps of each exercise because someone told you it was a good routine for the whole body. Perhaps it was a good routine for them, but is it a good routine for you?
How does it make you feel? Do you enjoy doing it? How do you feel after the routine? By answering these questions, you will begin to get a better understanding of what your body needs. It is much easier to be mindful whilst exercising when you are doing something that not only benefits you physically, but that you also enjoy doing.
Mindfulness at the workplace
Whether you work in an office, a hospital, a school or work from home, the modern workplace is stressful. Constant tight deadlines, interruptions, and a never-ending to-do list can take a serious toll on your mental and physical well-being. And when you’re stressed, you’re less productive. Mindfulness is an effective way to reduce stress and increase focus.
So why aren’t more of us practicing mindfulness at the workplace? It’s not because we’re not aware of the benefits of mindfulness. In fact, a study revealed that practising mindfulness at work reduced work-life conflict, increased job satisfaction, and increased the ability to focus.
So why aren’t we practicing more? The truth is that many of us don’t know how to begin. And that’s okay, because we’re sharing some simple tips for you to get started with. First, make a commitment and start small. For example, today I am going to take five mindful deep breaths in and out twice during my workday. This gives you the opportunity to pause for a few minutes and clear your mind from what you were working on.
After you have taken your breaths, notice what your thoughts were focussed on. Were they productive and helpful, or unproductive and unnecessary? Bringing awareness to unproductive thoughts is the first step in being able to change them to better serving ones and improve your mood at the same time.
If you do notice your mind overthinking at any point, just observe the thoughts as being separate to you, like an unprejudiced observer. Don’t let them suck you in, if you don’t give them energy, they will fade away. If you give them energy, your mind will give them fuel and you will start feeling emotions related to those thoughts. This is not beneficial when the thoughts are not productive.
When you notice you’re stressed, know the difference between your body and the stress. Your body could be telling you that you’re tired, hungry, or need to stretch your body. The stress is telling you that you need to get something done as soon as possible.
Your body is trying to protect you from the stress, but when your body is in that stressed mode, it’s hard to stay focused and efficient. But when you’re in a mindful mode, you’re able to recognise when your body is in that stressed mode, and you can take a few deep breaths and tell your body that you’re safe and everything is well.
Consistency is key
Doing these practices only once will reap few benefits, doing them daily for a few weeks, you will notice greater feelings of calm during your day and greater awareness of what you are focussing your attention on.
We hope that you have been encouraged to start practising mindfulness throughout your day. In today’s day and age, everyone is looking for ways to reduce stress and be happier with their lives. Mindfulness is a great way to do this!
What other activities can you practice mindfulness whilst doing? How about brushing your teeth, taking a shower, walking to the office? Let us know any other suggestions you have in the comments below.
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