5 easy ways to apply mindfulness in your daily life
We have all heard about mindfulness and its immense benefits. But you might be wondering what exactly IS mindfulness and how do I apply it?
To be mindful is to be fully conscious of and present in whatever it is you are doing in the moment. Now – why is this such a big thing?
Some of us are very used to doing several things at the same time, or to doing things in auto-pilot; we might even think this is very efficient and productive. In reality, it is not. Why? Because you cannot possibly be functioning at your highest potential if you are not fully present. And not only that, but every time we are not mindful, we are building up more and more stress.
This built-up stress is like a draining pipe that is stuck to our system and is constantly wearing us out and keeping us in continual fight-or-flight mode, like in a subconscious panic mode. Maybe we don’t sleep well, we bite our nails, we have headaches, we look tired, we get irritated or angry, impatient and less tolerant, we feel exhausted at the end of the day… etc.
So how to do it? How to be mindful and fully present?
When doing something mindfully you are like a scientist observing that which is happening. You are approaching the task at hand with an open mind, as if it is the first time you are experiencing it, you are appreciating every second and you are in a space of stillness just watching what is happening, with the highest attention to detail.
This might seem like a lot of work, but as you fully focus on the task, everything else disappears, literally. All your worries and anxieties are not there, all your thoughts and preoccupations are gone, your body instantly relaxes and connects with reality. Try it! You’ll be amazed.
It is important to bear in mind that even as simple as it sounds, it’s quite challenging to stay mindful for more than a few minutes. You’ll see how thoughts start to interfere and distract you, and you will be lost in your head – it doesn’t matter. It’s a practice. Just one minute of mindfulness, one full minute, makes a tremendous difference in the day. And day after day.
So here we go, these are 5 easy ways to apply mindfulness in daily life, so that we can keep a more constant serene state:
1. Mindfulness while eating
Mindful eating is actually an amazing experience! First we get to really taste and fully enjoy the different flavours and textures, and on top of that it’s super healthy. It means we are eating slowly and consciously. For example, do you know how many times you chew before swallowing? Have you observed the different sensations when swallowing?
While this practice is easier when eating alone, you can do the same when eating in conversation with people, just use as many instances as you can throughout the meal to ground yourself to what is happening, to the sensations in your body, even if it is just for a moment. Each moment counts.
2. Mindfulness while walking
There are many times during the day when you are just walking, no music on headphones, not in conversation, just walking. It might be when you leave your chair to get some water, to go to the restroom, from the public transport or car to your destination, etc.
Use these moments to connect to the walking. Feel each part of the feet touching the ground, your muscles pushing, pulling, … there are so many muscles involved in the movement. Check if you are holding any tension in your shoulders or face while walking, and release it. Again, every time you are in the walking, you are not lost in thought, you are in the reality of the here and now, which is always soothing.
3. Mindfulness while brushing your teeth
This is an excellent chance to apply mindfulness because normally when we brush our teeth we just do that, we don’t talk or move around. So we can use this opportunity to reconnect.
It is interesting to realise how not present we are in what we do. For example, if we ask ourselves if we take longer in the upper part of the mouth or in the lower, would we know the answer? Do we always start in the same place? In which angle do we hold the brush when we put the toothpaste on it? Where do we place the other hand?
If we brush our teeth daily, how come we don’t know these answers? What are we doing or where are we when we brush our teeth, then? Weird, right?
4. Mindfulness while working
Every now and then during the day, when you are in front of the computer, take a moment.
You can stay in your chair and just tune in to your breath, to the sensations in the soles of the feet, take 3 deep breaths, settle your body, release any tension you notice you might be holding, and then continue with your work. You may also leave your chair and take a mindful walk to the coffee machine or to the restroom. Furthermore, you could set some outlook reminders to just be mindful for a few breaths. This will automatically calm you down and refresh you.
5. Mindfulness before going to sleep
Lying in bed, close your eyes and do a body scan. Take your attention from the feet to the head, checking if there is any tension accumulated from the day. Release it and connect to the breath and to the sensations you feel in your body. Check which parts you notice against the mattress, focus on your belly breathing and notice how the tension of the day slowly goes away. Keep this calming sensation and fall asleep with it.
And that’s it for now, I hope you enjoyed these tips! Remember that when you are in the present moment the sympathetic system is on, which decreases blood pressure and heart rate, strengthens the immune system and lifts your mood. Be mindful, be happy!