Mindfulness is defined as the “quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment.” It is all about awareness, and being free from distraction. It has been proven that when practiced regularly, mindfulness reduces stress and enhances mental capacity.
According to Heaspace.com, meditation “is the training ground for learning mindfulness.” If you have never tried meditation, try adding it into your routine slowly, for even just a couple of minutes a day. When you are meditating, focus on your breathing. When you become aware of your breath and the movement of your body as air moves in and out of your lungs. If you feel like you need some extra guidance, there are plenty of great apps that can help you start this practice, like Headspace or Calm.
Connect with Nature
Getting outside and into nature is a great way to practice mindfulness. By simply taking a walk, you’re able to focus on your natural surroundings and experience even a change in mood. According to an article in Harvard Health Publishing, there is growing research that has shown “a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.” Dr. Jason Strauss, director of geriatric psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, also credits the visual aspects of nature for a reduction in stress, “Having something pleasant to focus on like trees and greenery helps distract your mind from negative thinking, so your thoughts become less filled with worry."
Practice a Creative Activity
Creative activities are a great way for beginners to start practicing mindfulness because they are “naturally mindful.” Drawing, panting, colouring or photography are all ways that you can use art to include mindfulness in your life. Remember that mindfulness is all about focusing on the activity at hand, therefore if you are painting, focus on your art and try not to multitask (for example, by turning the TV off in the background). It is also important to focus on the process of whatever art you are working on, rather than the end result. This allows you to enhance your ability to slow down and focus, and ultimately experience a calming and mindful experience.
Put Technology Down
These days we’re so used to having our phones either on us, or right next to us. We barely think about how that affects us in our daily lives and keeps in a multi-tasking state. Knowing when to take a break from your phone (by actually putting it in another room) is very important in order to experience mindfulness. Try practicing this by setting time aside in the morning or at night when you are completely removed from your phone.
Journaling is an awesome way to reduce stress and practice mindfulness. According to yogiapproved.com, “Mindful journaling is the act of expressively examining what is in your head and in your heart.” Taking just five minutes in the morning or evening to write down how you’re feeling can help you reduce anxiety and feel more at peace. You can also find prompted journals like this one that will help guide you through your journaling.
Eat with Awareness
Mindful eating is all about eating without distractions and focusing on the food in front of you and where it came from. Many experts credit mindful eating to aiding people to develop a healthier relationship with food. In the book ‘Savour: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life,’ the authors teach about the tools for mindful eating. For example, taking small bites, and eating slowly are two of the ways that you can incorporate mindfulness in your eating and life.
Use the Five Senses Exercise
The Five Senses Exercise is used to help people focus on their senses rather than their thoughts when they are anxious. All you need is a few minutes, and it can be a great method used to bring peace and grounding to your day. It goes as follows: notice 5 things that you can see, then 4 things you can feel, followed by 3 things that you can hear, then 2 things you can smell, and finally 1 thing you can taste. Practising this exercise can slow your heart rate and ultimately help to prevent the feeling of anxiety.
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