We could all use a little bit more mindfulness.
Being present can be difficult to do in a world full of distractions. While the tasks pile up and life seems to move at a stunning pace, it sometimes feels impossible to just take note of the world around you. If that sounds familiar, you might have thought there’s no way you can work a mindfulness practice into your day.
But there are lots of ways to ground yourself. It’s not all meditation and journaling (although those are great options!) Mindfulness is simply “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens,” the Berkeley researchers write.
Luckily there are lots of ways to do that, and you only need a little bit of awareness to be a bit more mindful today. Take a few tips and apply them to your day as they make sense.
1. Do one thing at a time. Take some time off of multitasking and focus on one thing at a time. The human brain isn’t built to take on several things at once, so you’re likely to find that you are more focused and get more done.
2. Focus on your breath. Inhale, exhale, repeat. The best part is that it’s a really simple way to bring you into the moment. “Breathing is massively practical,” Belisa Vranich, a psychologist and author of the book “Breathe,” told the New York Times. “It’s meditation for people who can’t meditate.”
3. Spend time in nature. A few moments each day spent outside can make a big difference to your mental health and reminds you the importance of being present.
4. Set a daily intention. Make sure it’s uplifting and you can revisit the words throughout the day, especially when you’re overwhelmed or feel stressed.
5. Journal. Try a prompt or write regularly about gratitude, which is scientifically proven to increase happiness and help you feel even more mindful.
6. Offer forgiveness. Even when it’s not easy. Letting go is a powerful way to remind yourself that life is always evolving.
7. Organize your space. Chances are your head will be in a better place if the space around you is too. Take 10 minutes to declutter and see how it affects your mood.
8. Ask questions. This helps you develop deeper conversations and more meaningful connections. Ask follow-up questions that avoid ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers, so that you can dive even deeper.
9. Be still. Even if it’s for just a few moments. Take in the sounds, smells, and sights around you. Build up to 10 minutes of stillness and see how much of a difference really slowing down can make.
10. Set a gratitude practice. Don’t limit this just to thinking about what you’re grateful for – send a letter, write a note, or give a little gift of appreciation. It turns out that the feeling is contagious.
11. Exercise. The feel-good chemicals your brain releases during exercise is really good for reducing stress and clearing the mind of distractions, the perfect recipe for being more mindful.
12. Let negative thoughts float by. Give yourself a “dwell deadline” and then move on. It’s okay to acknowledge uncomfortable or negative thoughts, but don’t let them take over.
13. Assess your routine. Take into account all of the big items on your daily schedule, but also the things you don’t think about, like what you do first thing in the morning or how you spend your lunch break. Becoming more aware of how you spend the in-between times can help you develop a better routine.
14. Practice deep listening. Listen without the expectation of responding. Experts advise looking the person you’re speaking to in the eye, asking bigger questions and even taking notes.
15. Make room for happiness. And put them on the calendar if you feel like your schedule is too busy for it. You’re more likely to do it if you make it a priority.
16. Offer a helping hand. Volunteering invites feelings of gratitude, happiness and fulfillment, even if it’s as simple as helping somebody carry a heavy bag or offering to make a coffee run on a busy day.
17. Set a goal. You don’t need a whole year to meet a goal. You can achieve a lot in just three months. The S.M.A.R.T method can help you make goals you’ll actually keep.
18. Say no more often. It’s easy to get bogged down with being agreeable, even when you don’t really have the bandwidth for it. If you’re unsure, respond by saying you need to assess your priorities. That’ll give you some time to think about an invitation or request before adding it to your plate.
19. Learn something new. Listen to a free lecture, visit a museum or take a trek to your local library. Focusing your time and energy on a new discovery can ground you in the present moment and inspire you to look further.
20. Write your own mission statement. Bring yourself back to your own ‘why’ every so often with a mission statement. Include your purpose, passion and why those details matter.
21. Make a meal. Cooking can be a very meditative practice. Focus on the ingredients you’re using. What do they look like/smell like/taste like? How do they all blend together? Nourishing your body is an added bonus.
22. Set your phone down. Take some time to unwind without the scroll. Social media and negative headlines can drag your mood down and prevent you from focusing on the current moment.
23. Celebrate your wins (even the little ones). Create a folder on your desktop or in your email and stash all of your good praise. Revisiting them on a hard day will bring you back to what truly matters.
24. Give a compliment. While we often think about mindfulness as focusing on ourselves, it can be equally beneficial to focus on others. “That’s a great idea!” or “Your work has been really impressive lately” are good ways to bring yourself into the present moment with others.
25. Get creative. Let go of what you think creativity should look like and try your hand at free drawing, writing a song or a coloring book. Remember there’s no wrong way to be creative. All that matters is that you give it a try.
Written by Kara Mason.