7 Ways to Practice Mindfulness and What it Can Do For You
Try practicing mindfulness every day to reduce your stress and anxiety.
It is surprisingly easy to suddenly feel overwhelmed or numb because of how much life is asking of you lately. It is also surprisingly easy to find yourself scrambling, as a result, to keep up both mentally and physically.
These situations create stress and anxiety that eventually takes a toll on your body. You may discover you’re having digestive issues, struggling to think and remember, and experiencing a bit more pain and discomfort. These symptoms can fester and even worsen over time if you aren’t pausing and taking time to destress.
Whether caused by work, finances, or personal issues, your stress can be reduced by practicing mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness and meditation are not the same even though they are sometimes used interchangeably. Meditation is a way to practice mindfulness, and mindfulness is the act of being present. It’s living in the moment right now.
It’s not focusing on the past or the future. It’s taking time to check in with yourself and pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, senses, and accept what you’re experiencing at this moment in time.
Related: Yes. There Is a Difference Between Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness offers endless benefits to your mental, emotional, and physical health. In fact, practicing it regularly has been clinically proven. Here are some of the benefits of practicing mindfulness:
- Lower stress
- Balance emotions
- Reduce anxiety and the symptoms of anxiety disorders
- Improve sleep
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce chronic pain
- Treat depression
- Prevent signs of aging
- Improve brain function
- Break bad habits
- Combat addictions
- Promote a more fulfilling and happier life
Mindfulness packs quite a punch when it comes to improving your life, and the best part is that it can be practiced anywhere at any time.
7 easy mindfulness practices
1. Pause before you act
When was the last time you gave yourself time to just be still? Give yourself a few moments of pause every day.
Pause and notice how your body feels before you begin the workday, or take a moment to sit without any outside distractions or sounds. These little moments of pause can do your mind some good in this fast-paced world.
2. Observe your breathing
If you are feeling overwhelmed, give yourself five minutes to do this exercise: sit or stand in a comfortable position, close your eyes, then place your hand on your stomach. Slowly inhale through your nose, focusing your breath on your abdominal muscles.
Your abdomen should rise as you breathe in. Now exhale slowly through your mouth while your belly deflates and flattens again. Only a few minutes of this practice a day can reduce anxiety.
3. Sense those sensations
Whether you are eating breakfast, driving in the rain, or walking past a lilac bush, use these moments to focus on your five senses. Savor the sweet taste of the syrup on your pancakes, listen to the pitter-patter of raindrops on your windshield, and take in that fresh smell of spring.
Paying attention to what you hear, see, smell, taste, and feel can help you connect with the present moment, and gain a much greater appreciation for the remarkable gift of your body, and the world around you.
4. Make mediocre tasks mindful
Did you know things like taking a walk, showering, dusting the house, or even washing the dishes can be a mindful experience? Wherever you may be, take time to pay attention to your surroundings.
Smell the dish soap, pay attention to how your body relaxes under the warm water, listen to the birds chirping while you walk the dog. Instead of going about life automatically like a robot, make your day and each task meaningful.
5. Be present with others
How often are you texting or thinking about what you need to get at the grocery store when someone is trying to have a conversation with you? Next time you talk to a friend or even a stranger, be fully present with them.
Notice their eye color, the sound of their voice, and the way they express themselves. Do they talk with their hands? Do they smile a lot? You may often hear what people are saying, but aren’t completely present with them. Try it and see how much deeper of a connection you feel to them.
6. Name your emotions
At any time of day, pay attention to the emotions—both good and bad—that come and go and give a name to what you are feeling. You don’t need to understand them completely, but noticing them and giving them a name can help you accept them, process them, and then let them go.
7. Try an app
If you find it hard to remind yourself to practice mindfulness, or if you want more mindfulness ideas that fit into your unique lifestyle, there are many helpful resources available that you can carry in your pocket.
You can find mindfulness apps for your smartphone to help you get started and stick to this calmer and more meaningful way of life. Here are only a few apps to try:
- 10% Happier
The best part about mindfulness is that anyone can do it. If you are looking for an easy way to feel calmer, at ease, and content with whatever life has to offer, give mindfulness a try. You’ll be wondering why you waited so long to begin.
Related: 6 Mental Health Articles to Get You Back on Track