Have you heard of the practice of mindfulness? It is commonly proposed as means to relieve stress and anxiety, to improve memory and attention, to regulate emotions or to tune out distractions. People practice being mindful while they eat, while they exercise, while they meditate, and more.
But what is a mindfulness practice, really? And how can you incorporate it into your life without it feeling like one more thing to add to an already unfinishable to-do list? In this article we’ll delve into the practice of being mindful, its benefits, and how you can easily embrace it in your daily life.
What is mindfulness?
Being mindful is the ability to practice the power of being fully present. It is being in control of your own experience.
Being mindful is like a superpower that allows you to be fully aware of your present situation, to focus your attention and step away from your experience in order to fully understand your feelings, thoughts and emotions. Sounds pretty powerful, huh? It is!
What can a mindfulness practice do for me?
A lot, as it turns out. Research has found that practicing being mindful can improve your memory and learning ability, the way you regulate your emotions, and even your feelings of empathy.
Mindfulness helps in building concentration and tuning out distractions , which can help us focus, recall information more easily, and allow us to pay better attention to the task at hand.
Simple activities to practice being mindful
The best part about a mindfulness practice is that it doesn’t need to be super complicated either. Here are 5 easy ways to start being more mindful today.
Stretch your muscles
The first thing you do when you wake up in the morning should be to wake up those sleepy muscles and prepare them for the day ahead! I’m talking the second your feet hit the floor, before you wash your face or (dare I say it!) check your phone.
Start your day by doing some gentle stretching, listening to your body and what needs attention on that particular morning. Incorporating this practice each morning will help jumpstart your energy for the day.
Disconnect from Technology
Allow yourself to connect more fully with those around you by giving yourself some time and space away from the distraction of your cell phone. You can put your phone on airplane mode or just put it away in a drawer or in another level of the house.
Take the time to be fully present in any given moment no matter if it’s out with friends, home with your kids, in a meeting with your co-workers, spending time with your partner or even just some good old-fashioned alone time.
Practicing being mindful can potentially combat obesity as people who practice mindfulness during mealtimes tend to choose healthier foods and eat them more slowly - leading to better overall eating habits as well as less calories taken in overall.
You can be mindful during mealtimes by not multitasking while you eat. Sit down for your meal, don’t stand, and put away the laptop, the tablet, even the newspaper, and just eat. Enjoy the company who surrounds you or your own solitary company.
Focus on the food, on the work that went into buying, preparing and cooking it. Take slow, purposeful bites, chewing and swallowing each bite before moving onto the next. Mindful eating is all about taking it slow and enjoying everything that your meal has to offer.
Get outside and spend some time with your thoughts. Sit in the sunshine, go for a leisurely bike ride or take a quick walk.
You’ll get some body-loving vitamin D along with the stress-relieving and mood boosting powers of being in nature, along with the mental clarity of taking the time to be mindful. So many wins in just one activity!
I know this one sounds counterintuitive if being mindful means slowing it down and being present, but hear me out. If a good chunk of your day is spent sitting down, whether it’s at a desk or some other mostly sedentary type job, you can be mindful by getting up and moving around!
Try to get up once each hour and give your body stretch or walk around the office. You’ll give both your body and brain a chance to reset themselves and be more productive in the long run.
Are you ready to be mindful?
Incorporating mindfulness is easy when there are so many opportunities each day to step back and bring your attention to your present moment, all you need to do is make the effort to get it done.
Don’t think of it as one more thing on your to-do list, rather, think of being mindful as a way to help understand your own feelings and emotions and become more present in your own life.