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The holidays are now behind us, and that often means the challenges of a new year, busy workloads, and busy, on-the-go lifestyles. Add to that the difficult couple of years we’ve all been through, and it’s completely normal to need a little bit of extra help managing your feelings and emotions.

One way you can work toward mental balance without the help of a professional is to practice mindfulness. This idea is centuries old, and many people associate it with yoga studios and hours spent in dark rooms, breathing deeply with your legs folded underneath you. But, there are many other ways you can be more mindful in your day-to-day life, even in just a few minutes a day.

Mindfulness offers a wide variety of benefits, from anxiety and stress reduction to improved sleep and even improved attention span and focus. Although results vary, the emotional, mental, and physical health benefits of mindfulness are well-documented.

Better Communication

Good communication is the foundation of our relationships, whether it’s with a romantic partner, friend, business acquaintance, child, or another family member. By improving your communication skills with mindfulness, you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble. Start by making sure you’re fully present for the conversation, not distracted or multitasking. Pay attention to the other party and really listen to what they’re saying. Then, follow through with your intentions by acting on them after the conversation.

Be Grateful

Sometimes in the day-to-day rush of our lives, we get caught up in the negative things and the stressors and forget to be grateful for what we have. But most of us have many wonderful things in our lives, and studies show that acknowledging the positive improves our overall outlook. Try practicing gratitude in your everyday routine by stopping and noticing the good things in your life, even if it’s something as simple as showing thanks for having shelter and food or for a sunny day.

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Feel Good About Yourself

Many people struggle with self-criticism, which usually shows up in the form of a negative voice in our heads that says unpleasant or even mean things, directed right back at us. This kind of thought process can be detrimental to self-confidence and lead to or worsen conditions like depression. To mitigate this voice, you can use mindfulness to practice self-compassion, in which we are as kind to ourselves as we are to our close friends and loved ones.

Enjoy Your Meals More

Even your eating habits can benefit from a mindfulness makeover. Many of us eat distractedly, either while scrolling through social media or watching TV or while having a conversation with loved ones over dinner. While mealtimes are a great time to connect with your family, solo meals can be a great opportunity to practice mindful eating. Studies show paying closer attention to your food and eating it without distraction or judgment improves digestion and can even aid in weight loss.

Reduce Anxiety

Anxiety is a big problem for many people, especially in today’s challenging world. We all worry, but some worry more than others or worry about things they can’t control. These thought processes are rarely productive and usually distract us from more meaningful pursuits. Through intention-setting, taking a digital break, or even mindfully organizing your to-do list, you can ease the anxiety that takes up so much of your mental energy.

Mindfulness is a simple-sounding practice, but don’t let the simplicity fool you. It can be an incredibly effective way to improve many facets of your life. With a few straightforward tricks, you can apply the ideas of mindfulness in many areas, making your path forward a little smoother and giving your mood a boost.