Mindfulness is becoming the new trend of the decade. It is becoming increasingly popular because our culture is craving a kind of balance. We are on autopilot most of the time, sprinting through life, and rarely slow down enough to check in with ourselves and enjoy the present moment. While technology is wonderful, it leads to a constant interruption of our attention, and takes us away from what we are doing. So, what exactly is mindfulness anyway? It is paying attention to what is happening right now, without judgment. Our minds typically wander to the past and future, preventing us from fully being present with the now. Formal and informal mediation are great ways to train the brain to become more mindful and present. It helps us focus our attention, turn inward to check in with ourselves, and get clarity!
It can be difficult to take a moment during our day for a pause, but here are ten ways to start fitting mindfulness into your crazy busy life:
- Upon waking, remind yourself of 3 things you are grateful for. Gratitude always starts your day off right and will retrain your brain to scan for the positives instead of the negatives.
- When you are in the shower, feel the water and soap on your body and notice the sensations. Start your day with a clear head by focusing on your body.
- Eat your breakfast mindfully. Pause before you eat, think about where the food came from, smell it and eat it slowly, one bite at a time. Try to eat without any devices!
- When you’re in your car, focus on the road. I am constantly working on this myself, in fact, just the other day, my son asked me where my head was when I missed the turn (a few times). You can also take time to notice the trees, feel your hands on the wheel and take a few deep breaths at the stoplight. Use traffic as a natural break to your busy day (same with waiting in line or in your car for your child after school).
- Before you go into work, the gym, or running errands, take another few deep breaths. If you are going into a stressful or anxiety provoking situation, research says if you make yourself big by putting your arms out in a V, or take the wonder women stance, you will be more confident
- Strike a pose. Try a yoga class if you don’t practice already. Yoga is the sister science to meditation. In yoga, you are using your breath to relax and to mindfully focus on the movement to get in touch with your body. We often live in our heads, and need to get in touch with how our bodies feel.
- One thing at a time. When you are checking emails, just check emails. When you are doing the dishes, just do the dishes. Multi tasking does not exist, causes stress and can not be done properly. We think we are being productive, but all we are doing is a lot of tasks half-assed.
- Set a timer or alarm on your phone to remind you to get up if you are sitting for too long, and take some deep breaths. It is not healthy to sit for so long and is always good to remember to breathe. It calms you and moves you from sympathetic nervous system to parasympathetic, where heart rate and blood pressure decrease. So simple.
- Remember to respond rather than react. If we create some space between stimulus and response, we have a choice in how we respond. Pausing before we react, is always helpful, because when we are triggered by stress, we don’t think clearly.
- Formal meditation. I know we don’t feel like we have the time, but if we can make the time for 10 minutes a day, it can be enormously beneficial. Find a space, focus on your breathing and when you have a thought, label it “thinking” and come back to your breath. You are not going to be able to block out thoughts, and that is not the idea. Gently returning to your breath without judgment is the key to meditation!
Good Luck ?