HOW CAN I PRACTICE MINDFULNESS IN EVERYDAY LIFE
These days, ‘mindfulness’ is a term that is often referred to, but also misinterpreted, by many people.
Understanding what mindfulness is and how it works is crucial if you want to develop an effective daily practise that brings great benefit to your everyday life.
Not 100% sure what ‘mindfulness’ means?
Let’s find out!
What is ‘Mindfulness’?
‘Mindfulness’ refers to being fully aware and focused on the present moment whilst acknowledging and accepting one’s thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. It involves noticing the little things that you might not have noticed otherwise.
Sounds easy, right?
Well, not always, as mindfulness is a form of relaxation – and relaxation isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone. In fact, it’s a skill that we often need to learn and can do through regular practise.
Why is mindfulness so important?
Have you ever driven yourself somewhere, only to realise you don’t recall the actual journey? Maybe you have found yourself eating some chocolate, only to look down and discover you have eaten the whole block? I know I have, and I’m sure I’m not the only one!
Due to the growing pressures of everyday living and the increase of emotional struggles, we often run on ‘autopilot’ and miss what’s happening in the moment.
Maybe you can relate to this?
Take a moment and think about the past hour or two. How present have you really been? Have you been lost in your thoughts about the past and/or the future? Or have you been paying full attention to what you were doing?
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, the definition of ‘autopilot’ is doing something without thinking about it or without making an effort.
So, in actual fact, being on autopilot is the complete opposite of experiencing mindfulness.
Whilst it’s common to run on autopilot from time to time, it can become problematic when autopilot becomes your prominent attitude to everyday living.
Being on autopilot usually takes you away from the areas of your life that matter the most – often leaving you stressed and unhappy. On the other hand, being mindful means you are more attentive and present from moment to moment and can open you up to experience more joy – especially for the little things in life.
What are the benefits of practising mindfulness?
Mindfulness has many health benefits, but the reduction of our stress hormone is a major one, so it’s an incredibly effective strategy when it comes to combating stress.
Being mindful increases your awareness of everything around you and allows more space in your life to truly experience what is happening in each and every moment.
Overall, mindfulness can improve your emotional and physical wellbeing.
Here are some of the common health benefits:
- Reduction of stress levels
- Lowered anxiety levels
- Improved sleep
- Greater capacity to deal with stress
- Reduction of pain
- Increased awareness
- Increased energy and motivation levels
- Improved concentration and focus
- Stronger immune system
- Improved mood and regulation of emotions
- Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
- Increased sense of calmness
- Increased sense of connection, meaning, and purpose
You can gain these benefits through regular mindfulness practise. Start with as little as a few minutes a day.
How do I practise mindfulness?
There are many different ways to practise mindfulness and I have included a list of ideas to consider below. Overall, the most important thing to remember is to stay focused on the present moment.
This can prove tricky as your mind can easily get side-tracked with passing thoughts, which often relate to the past and/or the future. But don’t worry – if you do find yourself drifting off or getting caught up in your thoughts, gently bring your attention back to the present moment as soon as you notice it.
Practising some form of mindfulness in everyday life can bring a greater sense of wellbeing through increased awareness and relaxation in our mind and body.
Here are 10 ways you can practise mindfulness:
- Recite a positive affirmation – Upon waking in the morning, recite a positive affirmation (positive phrases) that describe who and how you want to be. This should be said in the present tense as though it’s already occurred. It’s such an empowering way to start your day!
- Connect with nature – Going for a walk in the fresh air or heading out for a swim at the beach can work wonders with clearing your head-space.
- Keep a daily journal – A great way to unwind at the end of the day is to scribble down all your thoughts and feelings. Then you can clear your mind of any stressful thoughts and encourage a restful sleep.
- Be present with your family – Put aside all of those thoughts circulating within your head, such as what you need to buy from the shops or what you are going to make for dinner, and really listen to what your kids and/or partner have to say about their day.
- Declutter one space – How amazing does it feel when you clean up a cluttered space? The process keeps you focused on the present and releasing items that no longer bring you joy can be extremely therapeutic.
- Decrease distractions – Turn off your phone, TV, radio and any other background noise (apart from your kids – that could be a tricky one to ‘turn off!’) and sit in a quiet space to be alone with your thoughts. You may choose to read, write in your journal, paint or do another form of craft.
- Show gratitude – When things become overwhelming, stop, consider, and visualise all the things you are grateful for in your life.
- Take a music break – Turn on your favourite soundtrack and sing or dance to your heart’s content!
- Wash dishes mindfully – Although it can be considered a chore, washing dishes can actually be a very calming exercise – as long as you keep your thoughts to a minimum.
- Engage in hand-work – Sitting in a quiet space and doing something that uses your hands and a level of your concentration, such as knitting, sewing, doing crossword puzzles, beading, origami, a DIY building project etc, can be a great way to take time out from the craziness of life!
Mindfulness is something that you will get better with over time. Try different activities and see which one most resonates with you.
If you need any further assistance with practising mindfulness, feel free to contact me.
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Kylie Lepri is a registered Psychotherapist, Marriage & Relationship Counsellor, Clinical Supervisor, and Training Consultant. Since 2003 she has helped individuals and couples work through life stressors, develop new goals and create better relationships. Get Kylie’s FREE ebook: 5 Proven Strategies to help manage stress today, by joining her newsletter here.