Living more mindfully takes a little practice, but there are easy mindfulness exercises that everyone can use to get themselves on the right track. Here is how to be more mindful every day.
How To Be More Mindful Every Day
The world moves quickly these days. With all of the day-to-day excitements, stressors, and disappointments, it is completely normal to feel worried and exhausted much of the time.
All of these challenging emotions and distractions make it incredibly tough to appreciate the here and now. And while mental health professionals and personal trainers have excellent ways of providing us assistance, there are lots of things that you can do on your own to appreciate today more.
To bring the benefits of mindfulness to fruition, it is important to look at what you are doing for yourself. You probably do many things for many other people, but what are you giving back to you?
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness means living positively and peacefully in the present moment. When you are mindful, you are fully aware of exactly what is happening, the sounds, the smells, your body sensations, and the experience you are having.
In recent years it has become much more difficult to be mindful because of constant distractions, but there are everyday activities that you can take advantage of in order to find your way to mindfulness.
Maintain a Schedule
It may sound counterintuitive that you should have some structure in order to live a more mindful life, but human beings thrive in situations where there is some organization. In this context, it is a matter of knowing when it is time for work and when it is time for everything else.
Setting up a daily routine is a great way to help yourself compartmentalize stress. You can offer your full attention more readily when you know that tonight will be dedicated to your family, tomorrow morning will be dedicated to your physical health and exercise, and afterward you will focus on work.
Scheduling specific times for specific things can help you have better relationships, a healthier work-life balance, and more confidence in yourself. Because the first step in making a conscious choice to be mindful is to help yourself feel less overwhelmed.
Pause During Breaks
While most people live very busy lifestyles, there are always times to pause during the day. You may not realize it, as everything feels jam-packed all of the time, but the good news is that there are little things that you can do in very little time.
During your everyday life, you may do a lot of driving. There is driving to and from work, running errands, picking up the kids, and many more opportunities to be in the car, on a train, or a bus.
The next time you stop at a red light or are sitting on public transportation, consider not reaching for your cell phone to check social media. Take a few deep breaths and look around you. Check out the different ways that others are occupying themselves in their vehicles or look out the window.
Packing every given moment with something to do has the nasty side effect of increasing your stress levels, so taking a pause when you have a momentary break is an effective way of teaching yourself to have a mindful moment.
Practice Meditation or Deep Breathing
A regular practice that everyone can take advantage of is meditation and mindful breathing. Both mindfulness-based stress reduction options can lead to lower blood pressure, aid in chronic pain symptoms, and calm people with anxiety disorders.
Just the word “meditation” can lead some people to thoughts of living off the grid and becoming one with nature. And while there is nothing wrong with living your life in any way that you choose, you can continue to be exactly who you are and still benefit from some mindfulness meditation.
Before you get scared by the thought of formal meditation that you may have seen in the movies – relax. Find a quiet space for two minutes. It can even be in the bathroom.
Take a few slow breaths, feeling your body sensations as you take them. Pay attention to what your chest is doing. Notice your diaphragm move in and out. Clear your mind of everything except exactly what you are feeling.
That is mindful meditation. You can turn your meditation practice into something more, but you don’t have to. Take a few minutes to do a breathing exercise, clear your head, and then go on with your day.
Focus on the Moment
Daily life can be extremely hectic, so it is no wonder that your mind wanders here and there, not always able to really focus on the present. When that happens, make a few to-do lists so that you can stop thinking about it and assign those thoughts to be addressed later.
In order to appreciate your present moment experiences, it is important to get away from information overload. In this day and age, there will always be new data, ideas, and gossip at the touch of your fingers, so an excellent starting point for helping yourself stay mindful is to make a plan and delegate things for later.
Living in the moment is the best way to enjoy your own life. It may sound simple, but when you can just exist and have full present moment awareness, things feel more peaceful, you will be more engaged, and you will have more appreciation throughout the rest of the day.
Let Your Senses Speak
As anyone who has had anxiety attacks will tell you, the 5-4-3-2-1 senses trick is something that can help ground a person when they need some extra assistance.
The idea is that while part of the brain is responding to the attack, you also make a conscious effort to find:
- 5 things that you can see
- 4 things that you can feel
- 3 things that you can hear
- 2 things that you can smell
- 1 thing that you can taste
While these steps can help during a difficult time, they are also excellent mindfulness techniques.
It may seem like a simple practice, but focusing on your senses is one of the very easy ways to exist with a more open mind.
With your feet flat on the floor, go through the senses list one by one. Identify physical sensations that you may feel, from the wind to your socks. What new things can you identify around you? What scents or odors can you detect?
They may not be beautiful things – maybe it is that your refrigerator hums – but being one with your surroundings will help you learn to be more present and aware.
Eat More Slowly
While we’re discussing senses, mindful eating is another of the simple ways that you can stay present. When we are in a hurry, we shovel our food into our mouths so that we can get something in our system before running to the next thing.
Because our daily lives have become so frenzied, we set and keep certain habits that don’t always benefit us. But this isn’t one you even have to set aside time for.
When you are eating – whether you have five minutes or an hour – make your food the focal point for a short time. Pay close attention to the flavors and textures that you are experiencing. Spend a moment enjoying it all, as if it’s the first time you’ve tried this specific food.
This shouldn’t take away from family dinners or business meetings because you can do it in only seconds, so make eating in a more mindful way a brand new habit.
Spring Clean Regularly
You may not realize it, but the more stuff that lives in your immediate space, the more chaos there may be in your life. That chaos isn’t from the items themselves necessarily, but they should be a sign to you that you may not have the sense of inner peace that you desire.
Spring cleaning doesn’t have to only be a spring event. Go through your stuff on a regular basis. Tackle a closet or a bin each week or month.
We all have a hard time parting with meaningful items, so be sure to keep those close. But by going through your possessions regularly, you will develop a greater awareness of what you need and what is just a jumble.
Determine if any of your things evoke negative emotions (leftover items from a breakup, for example) and get rid of them. Find somewhere to donate. Clean up your surroundings and give yourself some clarity both in your mind and your home.
And remember that you are an example for someone else. People see you, they see what you do, and – particularly our young people – will model themselves after you. Show them a powerful way to stay in control of their thoughts and emotions.
It can be nearly impossible to experience true joy if you have no boundaries with other people. You will be wholly weighed down by their difficult emotions and situations with no ability to focus on yourself.
The only way to have a healthy relationship with other people is to establish a healthy relationship with yourself. And that means setting some healthy boundaries.
While we may think of boundaries as a line drawn between people or places, there is more to it.
There are places that make sense for boundaries to live (for example, no one should be meddling in your romantic relationships) and others where you may want a clear pathway from your loved ones to you (as in getting advice or spending time together regularly).
These can be difficult to set if you’ve been living without them for a very long time, so whether you seek professional help to assist you or you learn to say no more often, the last thing you need is to get bogged down by someone else’s difficult situations when you have to manage your own.
Set your boundaries in a nonjudgmental way. You’re sorry you can’t babysit for your nieces and nephews all week because you have a job. No, you need to contact me before you come over in the future because I can’t always stop what I’m doing. Don’t call my phone before 9am because earlier that that is “me time.”
There is nothing wrong with letting people know that you love them and letting them know how to love you. In many cases, they will be thankful to hear that you are doing something mindful for yourself.
Folding regular mindfulness practice into your life isn’t very difficult, but you have to be intentional about it. There will never be a day when the entire world is quiet enough to fully hear your own thoughts, so don’t wait for that day to come.
Practice mindfulness training and let it work for you. The more you learn how to be more mindful, the easier it will get.