“Mindfulness is the idea of learning how to be fully present and engaged in the moment, aware of your thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgment.” – Headspace
What is mindfulness?
In our busy everyday lives, it can be challenging to stop and to find time to be present in the moment. We can often find ourselves going about our daily lives without taking the time to notice our own thoughts and feelings or the world around us. Being present and aware is often called “mindfulness” which can help improve mental wellbeing, help us to enjoy life more and feel more connected to ourselves.
There are different ways of practising mindfulness – from breathing to guided imagery. Meditation is a mindfulness practice which involves sitting silently and paying attention to thoughts, sounds, the body, breathing and bringing your attention back to this each time the mind starts to wander. Exercises such as yoga or tai-chi can also help you to become aware of your breathing.
According to the Mayo Clinic, evidence supports the effectiveness of meditation for conditions such as stress, insomnia, and anxiety. They also suggest that it can help improve attention, decrease burnout, and improve sleep by accepting and acknowledging your thoughts and emotions.
So how can we start to be more mindful?
“Be kind to your mind. Less stressed. More resilient. Happier. It all starts with just a few minutes a day.” – Headspace
There are lots of ways to begin practising but here are a few small steps you can take to make mindfulness a part of your everyday life:
A little but often can help develop mindfulness into your everyday life. It may not work for everyone, but being more present and aware can help us to reconnect with our surroundings and feel appreciative of the little things.
To ease into mindfulness, begin by checking in with yourself. Acknowledge how your mind and body feel, take note of what’s going on your mind and what’s going on around you. Start to live in the moment and give attention to everything you do.
Regularity is key.
Choose a time that works for you. Perhaps you like to wake up in the morning have a coffee and use this time to check in with yourself. Or perhaps you like to reflect before bed and use this time to unwind, relax and become more aware of the world.
Shake things up.
To help see your surroundings in a new light, try to change something small in your routine. This could be something as simple as taking a different lunchtime walk or sitting in a different seat in your home.
Your thoughts matter.
When we stop and take stock of our thoughts it can be difficult at first. Our mind may feel worried or crowded. Take each thought at a time, jot them down and for every negative thought try to write down 3 positive things in your life, or steps to acknowledge or help to resolve these thoughts. By taking one at a time, it can feel less overwhelming. If you struggle to focus on one at a time, try to walk or gently stretch.
Learning to accept yourself.
Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself as your dearest friend. If you feel that your thoughts relive the past or worry about the future take time to free yourself from these and you will start to become more present in the moment.
When we experience negative thoughts, taking time out to sit and focus on our breathing can really help. Pause for a few minutes and take a deep breath in. Close your eyes, focus on how it feels when you breathe in and out.
Looking for ways to become more present and in the moment? Check out our 21 mindful activities you can try at home:
- Keep a mood diary
- Make a plan for tomorrow (no matter how small)
- Do something nice for someone unexpectedly
- Look up at the sky and describe it in 5 words
- Spend a day volunteering or helping
- Indulge in a long bath
- Change your bedding once a week
- Unsubscribe from email marketing
- Organise your workspace or living space
- Offer praise to someone who deserves it
- Go for an hour-long walk
- Read up on a topic that you’d like to understand better
- List some things you are grateful for
- Treat yourself to a snack and acknowledge how good it tastes!
- Start the day with 15 minutes of exercise
- Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while
- Create a music playlist of songs you love
- Spend 10 minutes focusing on your breathing
- Apologise to someone you may have upset
- Write a handwritten letter to someone
- Define 3 daily goals and achieve them
Bonus activity: Plan how to incorporate these acts of mindfulness into your everyday life