Most people wake up in the morning, spend the entire day doing a job they don’t even like, get home late, go to bed, and do it all over again the next day. Why? To one day have enough money for the things that will make you happy or bring you peace of mind?
If this sounds like you, listen up! The truth is, we are already able to be happy and have peace of mind at this very moment, we simply need to be more mindful. In this article, we’ll discuss what mindfulness is, the benefits, and how to practice it in your everyday life.
“Everyone chases after happiness, not noticing that happiness is right at their heels.”–Bertolt Brecht
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
To be mindful is to be fully aware of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment in the specific moment.
You know that feeling you get when you see a beautiful sunset? Or the moment you realize you’re extremely happy while laughing so hard your stomach hurts? Yes, that’s mindfulness.
It’s genuinely taking in a stunning view, being present while cooking or walking, interrupting negative thought with gratitude, or when you’re practicing meditation.
- DECREASED STRESS AND ANXIETY
It also helps decrease stress by improving emotion regulation, leading to a better mood and better ability to handle stress.
2. ENHANCED ABILITY TO DEAL WITH ILLNESS
Mindfulness may not take away cancer or symptoms of chronic disorders, but it can help make them more manageable.
One study showed that mindfulness could reduce symptoms of stress, enhance spirituality and non-reactivity to experience, facilitate post-traumatic growth, and enhance well-being while relieving fatigue.
3. IMPROVES FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION
Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis improves concentration. Meditation, for example, trains your mind because whenever it wanders off, you can intentionally bring it back to the present moment. Therefore you improve your ability to focus on one thing.
4. HELPS MANAGE SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION
If you’re currently struggling with depression or you feel down every now and then (like every human being does), being mindful is a great coping mechanism.
Mindfulness can effectively decrease depressive symptoms, anxiety, and stress in college students, as well as increasing self-compassion. These benefits are all because of the ability to regulate your emotions. During meditation, you step back from negative emotions, identify them, and accept them instead of fighting them.
For me, this has made me realize what the saying “you are not your thoughts” really means and has had such a massive impact on my emotional well-being.
5. IMPROVED GENERAL HEALTH
We can get all these benefits and MORE by only being aware of our surroundings and being present in the moment. How great is that!
HOW TO BE MORE MINDFUL
We can become more mindful by making small changes in our everyday life. Small changes that will significantly improve our health and emotional well-being.
- START FIRST THING IN THE MORNING
Before your feet touch the ground in the morning, find a few minutes to tune into yourself. Observe how you’re feeling, your bodily sensations, thoughts, and set an intention for your day. This way, you not only start your day on a good note, but you take control of your day.
2. INCLUDE IT INTO YOUR ROUTINE
When you eat, be fully aware of how to food tastes, the texture it has, and when you are full. While brushing your teeth or showering, try to be present and not let your mind wander to what’s happening later in the day or what happened yesterday.
It’s normal for your thoughts to wander, so whenever you realize it, become aware and bring it back to whatever you’re doing in the moment. You can practice mindfulness while you’re waiting, by focusing on your breathing. Notice when you inhale, exhale, and where you feel the breath in your body.
3. CHECK-IN WITH YOURSELF
Set a reminder on your phone for every few hours to check in on yourself. Here are a few questions to ask yourself;
- How am I feeling?
- Am I holding stress in my body?
- What do I need?
- What am I proud of?
- What can I let go of?
Tip: whenever you have tension in your body, take a deep inhale and imagine the breath traveling to the place you feel the pressure and visualize the tension leaving your body while you slowly exhale.
4. START SMALL
Start by doing a mindful exercise such as meditation for 5-10 minutes a day and progress from there. It’s more beneficial to have small bursts of mindfulness during the day than one long practice where you lose interest and doze off.
5. LEARN TO MEDITATE
Meditation is the language of mindfulness, and you first need to learn a language before you are fluent in it, right?
I only started being more mindful in my everyday life, once I got into meditation. It provides you with all the tools needed to be mindful such as detachment from your thoughts and feelings, being aware of how your body is feeling, as well as your mental health.
MINDFUL EXERCISES TO TRY:
- Mindful breathing – Inhale in for three counts, hold for three counts, and exhale for three. Repeat five times.
- Body scan – Scan your attention through your body, consciously relaxing any areas of tension.
- Five senses exercise – Name 5 things you can see, feel, and hear right now.
- Mindful eating/ drinking – Notice the flavor, texture, colors, and temperate of what you’re eating/ drinking.
- Journaling – Write down five things you’re grateful for.
LET’S WRAP IT UP!
I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes that summarize this article and if this is the only thing you remember, I’ll be more than happy…
“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life“Omar Khayyam
HOW DO YOU PRACTICE MINDFULNESS?
Nikki Lamprecht is a Dietetics student in South Africa and has a passion for nutrition, mindfulness, and sustainability. She recently started a holistic lifestyle blog, Santosha Sisters, with her sister. In her free time, she enjoys reading, yoga, and spending time outdoors.
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