Mindfulness is a concept that many wellness practices incorporate, and for good reason – if you’re living mindfully, you’re actively aware, without judgment, of your current mental, physical, and emotional well-being. This awareness ultimately leads to a more purposeful and focused life. If you’re ready to start down this path, here are five simple ways to introduce mindfulness into your daily routine.
Start and End with Breathing
One of the easiest and most effective ways to introduce mindfulness into your day is to focus on your breathing. As something that almost always happens by instinct in the background of our lives, being aware of the rhythm and sensations of breathing can instantly calm and re-center your focus. As a beginning step, try to start and end your day focused on breathing with this simple exercise: breathe in through your nose to the slow count of 4, then hold for 4, and finally exhale through your mouth for 3 – as you complete this exercise, place your hands on your stomach and notice the rhythmic rise and fall. It may seem uncomfortable at first, and you might sense you’re getting restless, but allow your mind to return to focusing on your breath each time – it’ll get easier the more you do it! As you get more comfortable doing this morning and night, you’ll be able to incorporate it into your day whenever you need some focus and calm.
Eat with All of Your Senses
Eating is an activity that can be a chore, an indulgence, a background task, or a chance to practice mindfulness. For many of us with busy schedules, eating meals or snacks while multitasking has become the norm. Because eating is such an important part of your life, though, it’s one of the best ways to introduce more mindfulness into your day. Next time you eat, try to focus on engaging all of your senses – what textures do you feel? How does the food smell and taste? What do you see on your plate? Do you hear crunching? By actively using all of your senses while you eat, you’ll not only feel more present in the task, but you’ll be better able to listen to your body’s hunger cues. Paying attention to all five senses will also require you to slow down as you eat – a much healthier way to consume! Mindful eating will add joy and meaning to the nutritional parts of your day.
Photo: Юлия Бурмистрова via 123RF
Let Your Thoughts be Thoughts
Often when we have anxious thoughts or get caught up in over-analyzing something, our default is to give those thoughts focus and weight. To incorporate mindfulness into your day, try to repeat the mantra, “my thoughts are just thoughts.” Don’t try to talk yourself out of these ideas that float into your head, and likewise don’t direct unneeded energy and attention toward them; let your thoughts be thoughts and nothing more. Being aware, without judgment, of your mind’s focus is the first step in choosing where you direct your day’s energy and deciding which thoughts should become actions.
Practice Gentle Redirection
An essential part of mindfulness is letting go of judgment – this is often easier to do for others than for ourselves! Mindfulness means noticing your current state and gently redirecting to your goal state. If you find your mind wandering during work, for example, rather than getting frustrated or feeling the need to work faster to make up for lost time, try this: take a minute to focus on your breath (see tip #1!), acknowledge in neutral terms that your mind was focused on another task, gently redirect your thinking to the current goal, and then move forward at a normal pace. If you find that it’s hard to keep on task, try writing down the thoughts that seem to grab your attention and verbally acknowledge that you will get to them later (or, per tip #3, don’t be afraid to acknowledge your thoughts as only thoughts without making an action plan).
Be Part of Nature
In our fast-paced world, many tasks and environments make it harder to practice mindfulness. To begin a mindfulness routine, it’s often easiest to connect with yourself and notice your current state when you’re in nature. Head to the backyard, the park, the mountains, the beach – then let your mind focus on how your body feels in the space using all five senses. Out in nature is a beneficial place to let your mind wander where it pleases while staying present in those thoughts. You may be surprised to find yourself rejuvenated after only a short time outside.
You’ll find plenty of opportunities to incorporate these mindfulness practices into your day – and you’ll start noticing an impact sooner than you might think!