By Barb Ward
Let’s face it, you have a lot on your mind. No matter what your occupation or your life situation you, like many others, are working extra hard to get your life back on track after the pandemic. Normal is not normal, but you are struggling with the term “new normal”. You just want it all to slow down for a minute, but you don’t have time to slow down. What you need is a little mindfulness.
Defined as the awareness that comes from deliberately paying attention to what is occurring around you and within you as it is happening, mindfulness requires you to attentively observe your experience as it unfolds without judgment or evaluation.
That feeling of not being able to slow down causes a physical reaction in your body which results in stress and anxiety, so while you may feel you don’t have a moment of extra time to devote to the practice of mindfulness, in truth, now is the perfect time to start. The best part is, there is no one-size-fits-all method of mindfulness. There are numerous activities and techniques that can help you re-center, reduce your stress and become more aware of the present moment, and you can choose what works best for you.
Consider this, when you intentionally create a state of relaxation for yourself, which is achieved through mindfulness, you reap benefits including:
- a more positive life-outlook
- better overall health and immune function
- a boost in resilience
- higher levels self-acceptance
- less stress and anxiety
- an increased feeling of happiness and contentment
- lower blood pressure and heart rate
- better attentiveness and focus
- a feeling of connectedness and awareness
- slow aging and improve mental acuity
If that weren’t enough, get this, you can achieve these benefits through activities that take just a few minutes a day. Check out some of the practices below and choose a few you might want to try.
Simple mindfulness practices
- Practice prayer, and/or meditation. It can be whatever you want it to be. Form the habit of silently witnessing your thoughts.
- Take a wellness walk. Walk outside, observe the nature around you, allow your mind to take a quiet timeout.
- Close your eyes, breathe deeply and relax for one minute. Focus your attention on your breathing and relaxing your body. Clear your mind of all thoughts.
- Focus your mind. Find a window with a view, sit or stand gazing out and silently bring forward your thoughts of gratitude and gratefulness.
- Pay attention to the little things. You’ve heard the saying, “stop to smell the roses,” this is mindfulness. Notice the beauty of the clouds, trees or flowers, the scent in the air, or the sound of the water when it rains.
- Be grateful. Notice five things in your day that usually go unnoticed and appreciate them. This brings to awareness all the things you have to be thankful for, from the seemingly insignificant things to things that mean a great deal. For example, you probably don’t give much thought to the electricity that keeps your home warm or cool, or makes your coffee in the morning, your clothes that provide warmth, the person who delivers your mail, etc. Taking time to identify these things helps you be grateful for the ways they support you in your life.
- Be in the moment. A study by Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert found that people spend almost 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they are currently doing. This means that when you are having a conversation with another person, you are often not focusing on what they are saying, you are caught in your own inner dialogue. Concentrate on giving your full, undivided attention to the person you are speaking to.
Like any new activity, the more time you devote to mindfulness, the more it will become a habit. Your diligence will actually retrain your brain to think more positively, and remain calm in stressful situations. Ultimately, you’ll feel more content and more relaxed, resulting in a more productive, happier life. And after all, isn’t that what we all want?