We live in a fast paced society and things can get overwhelming. On a daily basis, we all have a lot to check off of our to-do lists. Maybe you’re cramming for finals, responding to an urgent work email, or taking care of your family. Today, we also face so many distractions due to an increase in technology. It’s hard to imagine even a day without our phones! When we practice mindfulness, we learn to slow things down in our busy digital age.
What is Mindfulness?
To keep it simple, being mindful means remaining present. Despite the hectic nature of our modern day world, practicing mindfulness encourages self awareness, acceptance, and taking in the moment. It allows you to truly focus on what you’re doing right now.
Mindfulness stems from ancient Buddhist meditation teachings, but Jon Kabat-Zinn adapted the concept in 1979. Over the last few years, mindfulness has gained a lot of popularity. This may be due to more mainstream coverage, publications like Mindful, and the power of social media!
After doing some research, I also found that mindfulness is often used in therapy. This is because it’s thought to help with anxiety and stress!
How To Practice Mindfulness Daily
Before anything, remember to always be kind to yourself. It’s perfectly okay (and normal) if your mind starts to wander. Don’t let that discourage you!
Keep it simple. For example, you might be cleaning your room after a long day. Maybe work was stressful and it left you feeling burned out.
Take in the moment around you, fully. What do you hear? What do you see and smell? Notice the breeze coming from your slightly cracked opened window. What does the cool air feel like on your skin? Take a few deep breathes, in and out, and relax your muscles. Keep doing this for a few moments until your mind begins to slow down.
Being Mindful — 7 Calming Daily Exercises
1. Spend time in nature, even if it’s just your backyard.
The sounds and sights of a bustling city are fun, but overstimulating. Sometimes, it’s nice to get away and enjoy a quieter atmosphere. Nothing is quite as relaxing as being in nature. Plus, it’s a great way to take in the present moment.
Even if you live in the heart of a city, find a calming spot nearby. It can be a beach, the park, or even your backyard. Allow yourself to drop events from the day for just a moment. Watch the ocean waves crash against the sand. Sit underneath a tree in an open field. It’s just you and the calmness of a simplistic moment like this one.
2. Pay attention to how you’re nourishing your body through food.
We all have been there. It’s 8 am and you’re rushing to work. You’re already running late and are in a state of panic. Maybe you grab a granola bar and rush out the door. On the other hand, you might decide to skip breakfast altogether.
Eating mindfully is crucial for your health. But what does “mindful eating” mean exactly? How does this apply to everyday life?
A good example is eating dinner while watching TV, answering emails, or scrolling through Instagram. It’s difficult to fully appreciate your meal if you’re paying attention to everything else.
Within the last couple of weeks, I’ve actually stopped eating with a laptop on the kitchen table. I’m enjoying my dinner so much more now because the atmosphere feels peaceful. I’d definitely recommend taking little steps like eating without your phone or waking up earlier for breakfast. They make a huge difference!
3. Meditate for a few moments and listen to your body’s signals.
While researching for this post, I found that body scanning is another common way to practice mindfulness.
It’s about noticing your body’s signs and having a deeper sense of self awareness. Close your eyes for a moment and pay attention to different parts of your body as you breathe deeply. What is your body trying to tell you? How do you feel in this moment?
For a full body scan exercise, check out this article by Mindful!
4. Recite positive affirmations and avoid judgement.
Has this ever happened to you? Someone you love gives you a compliment and you immediately reject their words? Unfortunately, we all experience feelings of self doubt. Often times, it’s even more challenging to pay yourself a compliment. It isn’t easy to let go of inner-judgement or a feeling that you need to do more.
Positive affirmations are an important part of mindfulness, as you’re celebrating yourself as you are right now. No conditions or strings attached. You’re also looking at the future in a positive light and as something to be excited about!
Here are just a few examples of positive affirmations:
- 20 Small Positive Affirmations to Help Ease Anxiety
- 50 Daily Positive Affirmations List
- 42 Affirmations That Will Change Your Life
Give yourself one compliment each night before going to bed — this is a great way to practice mindfulness on a daily basis.
5. De-stress your workspace and add greenery.
Before the work day ends, declutter your drawers and only keep things that you absolutely need. Since we’re at work for hours at a time, it’s crucial to keep our workstations organized. This is because a disorganized station leads to a cluttered mind.
On top of that, consider buying a succulent for your desk. Studies show that adding plants to your workspace comes with a variety of benefits. According to Good Earth Plants, “working in plant filled environments [is linked] to cleaner air, better health and increased productivity.”
With one simple 20-minute decluttering session, you’ll start feeling lighter and calmer!
6. Have a Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and TV freeze.
We’re all used to having various forms of media at our disposal. It’s tempting to binge watch, especially with the rise of streaming services like Hulu and Netflix. While the occasional binge watch session is fun, we should be mindful of how we are consuming media.
During the last few months, Alejandro and I have been binge watching Game of Thrones. We went from season 3-8 in the matter of two months!
After watching the show in full, we both started to realize that consuming media in that way impacted our health. We weren’t really focusing on other things and rushed to our laptops after work. Unfortunately, we missed a lot of the day because of this habit.
This led to a convo about how we are spending our time outside of work. We decided to implement a “Netflix freeze,” meaning we’d only watch TV on Fridays and Saturdays.
During the week, we’d take walks, go outside, study, read, and spend time together in more meaningful ways. Alejandro would dedicate more time to school and I would on my blog. It’s amazing how much time we have on our hands with this change!
7. Think about the “why” behind your chores.
Lastly, to practice mindfulness effectively, we should remember the “why” behind daily activities. Chores are annoying at times. We don’t always feel like going to the grocery store, doing laundry, or washing the dishes. When we’re in this mindset, it’s important to rewire our thought process. Instead of telling yourself you don’t want to do this chore, ask yourself why.
Why are you buying groceries? It’s because you’re cooking yourself a nice homemade dinner. You want to make sure that your pantry is stocked with food for the week. Why do you have to do laundry? Because you’ll have fresh clothes for tomorrow when you go to work.
Continue this practice for various activities, especially when it comes to things you need to get done during the day!
What are some ways you practice mindfulness? How do you think you can be more mindful in your daily life?