What is a daily mindfulness practice? Why do I need one? What are the benefits? How do I fit mindfulness into my already hectic, crazy busy life?
Unless you live off the grid you’ve likely heard about bringing mindfulness into your life. It seems like most of us are running on autopilot or multi-tasking and not really present in the moment, and it is taking a toll on us, on our stress level.
I’m here to share a way to add mindfulness into your day in a way that hopefully just flows and doesn’t feel like one more thing I need to do.
What Is Mindfulness
Mindfulness is present moment awareness. It is being in the here and now, noticing your surroundings, feeling what is happening in your body, using your senses to hear, smell, taste, touch, and see what is going on in your world in this moment.
It means being present with your thoughts and feelings without judgment, just awareness. There is no right or wrong, it is what you are noticing now. When we practice mindfulness we stay in the now, not going back into the past or jumping forward into the future.
For many of us the day is a blur, moving from one meeting to the next, one task to another. Maybe getting things accomplished but moving at a speed that just creates stress and doesn’t allow us to stop and savor the sweet little moments throughout the day. Mindfulness is an opportunity to take a beat and just be in the moment.
What Are Some Of The Benefits Of A Mindfulness Practice
Here are just a few of the benefits of a daily mindfulness practice:
Lowered Stress – A couple of ways that being mindful lowers stress, it allows you to notice and take pleasure in the little moments throughout the day when good things are happening. It also allows you to be fully present and able to deal with life challenges in the moment rather than have them building through our the day.
Improved Mental and Emotional Health – By being in the here and now it can keep you from getting caught up in the regrets of the past and worries about the future. By being in the present you can be more engaged with others, form deeper connections which is an important part of emotional well-being.
Improved Overall General Physical Health – Some of the physical benefits may include lowered blood pressure, reduction in chronic pain, improved sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal problems.
Less Rumination – Being mindful and coming back into the moment can pull you out of the spiral of negative thinking that can fuel low self-esteem, worry, and increased negative feelings.
Daily Mindfulness Practices
Mindful Eating – Be completely there with your food. First stop and look at the food you are about to eat, notice the colors, shape, size, texture. Take a whiff, smell the goodness you are about to put in your mouth. Now taste, is it salty, sweet, creamy, crunchy. Notice it on the tip of your tongue and the sensation of actually swallowing the food. Listen to the sounds, does it have a crunch? Chew your food slowly, really enjoy each taste. Do this for as much of the meal as you can, even if you do it for the first minute or two you will have a whole new appreciation for your food.
Mindful Breathing – Stop and just notice the breath. Breathe deep and slow, inhale and hold for a few seconds, release the breath with a long slow exhale. Pause for a second and then deep breathe again. Do this for 2 to 3 minutes if possible. Be with the breath, notice the rise of your chest and belly on the inhale, feel the release on the long slow exhale. If you can do this for 2 to 3 minutes you will feel relaxed and release any of the stress that has been building in your body and mind.
Mindful Walk – If you have the opportunity during your day to go for a walk this is a great exercise. Feel your feet as they touch the ground, notice the sensations in your body as you walk, pay attention to the sights and sounds in the environment. Feel the sun and breeze on your skin. Be on the walk instead of back in the office or thinking about all the to dos on your list.
Mindful Meditation – Very simply, just sit or lay in a comfortable position. Focus on the breath, notice sensations in the body. Stay with the breath and bodily sensations. Are you feeling tightness or tension anywhere in your body? When you notice you are off thinking bring your focus gently back to the breath. Do your best to not get caught up in the thoughts, gently and without judgment come back to the breath. Start with a few minutes and build up. There are many ways to do a mindful meditation, try several and find one that you will enjoy and look forward to.
How To Be Successful At Keeping Your Daily Practice Going
It may help you be successful incorporating mindfulness into your day by having a plan.
Before you start, think about why it is important and how often you can add in some mindfulness throughout the day.
- What is your goal with mindfulness?
- How many times a day would you like to stop and check in?
- Which mindfulness practice would you like to engage in today?
- Why is it important to you?
I ask clients to do an technique daily for at least 10 days to start to make it a habit. I also suggest that you make a visual reminder. This might be writing it in your daily planner, but it could also be a post it note on the bathroom mirror or a note on the fridge. If you are more auditory and would not see those, set a timer on your phone or watch to remind you to engage in a mindfulness moment.
Don’t over complicate this. Try to add in at least one mindful moment a day. Maybe it is even before you get our of bed in the morning, notice how it feels to be in your comfy bed, the warm blankets that are covering you, or the hum of the ceiling fan. Just notice, maybe take a moment to be grateful for another day.
Once you are successful with adding in at least one mindful moment, try to add in another and keep building until it becomes almost second nature to stop and check in. In time you will notice that you feel less stressed our or when stress hits you will remember to breathe and come back into the now where you have some control.