When we’re constantly busy and judging our performance in life, work, and relationships, we can easily become stressed. This pressure and consistent negative thinking puts you at a greater risk of anxiety and depression. Excessive planning and problem solving can be taxing. Mindfulness is one way to redirect you away from these thoughts and start living in the moment. A meditative and relaxation practice, mindfulness is focusing on the present moment and your senses. Mindfulness reflects on these experiences in a non-judgmental way. You begin to see the world around you through a new lens, and instead of seeing life critically you start to become curious.
Why Practice Mindfulness?
There are many benefits to incorporating mindfulness into your life. From an emotional and physical standpoint, mindfulness helps fight depression, anxiety, and other mental health symptoms. Researchers have found that practicing mindfulness meditation may improve your memory, your ability to learn, and your self-esteem. Redirecting your thoughts can help you feel better about yourself, take better care of yourself, and raise your mood. Many times our minds dwell on past mistakes, fears, or even hopes for the future. Mindfulness helps us to stay in the present and keeps us calm enough to practice good decision-making. Our work life can also improve when we spend less time on negative thoughts. Mindfulness allows us to be more creative and thoughtful in our work.
How to Practice Mindfulness
Learn the meditative practice of mindfulness by following the steps listed:
Focus and practice good breathing. Begin by sitting up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Pay attention to what it feels like to breathe in and out. Relax your mind and dismiss other thoughts. Notice your abdomen as it rises and falls with each breath. If your mind does begin to wander, don’t judge yourself. Gently redirect your thoughts back to the exercise. If you are finding it difficult, search online or watch YouTube clips for breathing exercise instructions.
Pay attention to your senses. Focusing on your senses can help you feel calmer. For example, find a piece of fruit and smell, feel, and look at the fruit. Take a bite, chewing and tasting it slowly. This practice can relax you and possibly teach you more about your relationship with food. You can also try paying attention to your senses while walking outside. Whether you’re in your backyard or at a busy street corner, you can stop and pay attention to what you hear, see, and smell. Take a deep breath. Direct your mind away from any negative or stressful thoughts and towards the present moment.
Look at what’s familiar. Focus on an object you use or encounter every day. Look at it with fresh eyes, in a way you’ve not noticed it before. You might find a new appreciation for the world when you stop and truly pay attention.
Listen carefully to others. Truly listen to people you’re meeting for the first time and those you’ve known a long time. Hear what they’re saying with new ears. Consider what they’re trying to convey and how they might experience the world differently than you do.
Delay judgment. We tend to size people up immediately. When we are slow to judge others, we may be less negative about the world around us. This gives us an opportunity to discover what’s special about the individual and what we can learn from people.
When to Practice Mindfulness
The following tips will help you discover the best time to engage in mindfulness:
Look for patterns. Do you find yourself getting more stressed or negative at certain parts of the day? Begin to look for patterns to your thinking. If you notice a particular event, environment, or time of day that triggers these reactions, consider engaging in mindfulness beforehand to counteract them.
Find your space. Set aside a few minutes every day to practice breathing techniques. Create a special, quiet place for you to relax. Begin to feel yourself unwind. A safe and positive place can make all the difference when releasing stress and tension.
Use every moment. Some mindfulness activities, like listening carefully and engaging your senses, can be practiced any time during the day. Likewise, almost any activity lends itself to mindfulness, from checking your email to shopping at the grocery store. Simply tune in to your breathing, your other senses, and who is around you.
Establish a routine. Mindfulness might seem awkward or uneasy at first. However, as you practice it every day for several months, mindfulness will begin to feel more natural. Researchers suggest committing to mindfulness techniques for six months to establish a solid routine.
When you practice mindfulness, great things can happen. Instead of mindlessly eating in front of the television each day to deal with stress, you can experience all this world has to offer. In short, being mindful takes you off autopilot to notice new things with greater enthusiasm.
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