How do you go through your day? Do you consciously consider the actions you take? Or do you function primarily on autopilot, moving from one task to the next without reflecting on what each one means in the greater scheme of things? Mindfulness refers to the process of consciously reflecting on your actions. This practice empowers you to change unwanted behaviour and take more joy in ordinary pleasures.
Here’s how to incorporate more mindfulness into your daily life.
1. Start Your Day With Yoga/Meditation
What’s the first thing you do when your alarm goes off? Do you reach for your phone to surf social media? Do you pay attention to your body and your mind?
Start each morning with a bit of yoga and meditation. Yoga gets your blood flowing gently – you can stretch while you remain in bed. Meditation sets a positive mindset that makes you more adaptable to change and minor frustrations. Stuck in traffic on the way to work? Instead of becoming furious, you realise yelling won’t help the cars in front of you move faster, and you tune into a podcast instead.
2. Savour Your Morning Cuppa
Ah, coffee. That magical bean water that makes it possible to handle things like Monday morning budget meetings. How often do you take the time to fully savour the flavor? It takes only seconds.
The next time you take a sip, close your eyes. Let the taste roll over your tongue. Feel the warmth spread through your tummy. Take 5-10 seconds to indulge the pleasure your beverage brings.
3. Change Up Your Commute
Did you ever pull in to the parking garage at work with no idea how you got there? Taking the same route day after day can lead to distracted driving, which carries serious consequences. Think about it. When you are unsure where you’re going, you’re less likely to talk on hands-free cellphones or even put on makeup. You focus your attention on getting to your destination. Recreate this concentration by changing your commute. Take the scenic route. What do you see?
4. Stop and Smell the Poinsettias
The holidays are coming – practice mindfulness and get into the spirit of the season by taking the time to admire the decor. Go for a nighttime drive and look at the lights. Compliment your colleague on the poinsettia decorating her desk.
Does the holiday cheer leave you feeling down? You’re not alone if you suffer from depression this time of year. Try redirecting that energy. Volunteer to help the less fortunate or reach out to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while to improve your mood.
5. Smile and Say Hello
You encounter many people in the day, but how often do you reflect mindfully on the impression you give them? We all have the power to make somebody else’s day brighter with a smile and a cheerful greeting. When your co-worker walks into the office, instead of grunting and nodding, ask them how their evening was. Take a few moments to listen to their reply. Both of you will feel happier from the encounter.
6. Focus on Your Food
Do you eat lunch at your desk? Do you snack without tasting your food? Eating without thinking can contribute to obesity and even Type 2 diabetes. If you’re not mindful of what you put in your mouth, you can easily consume too much.
Try restricting eating to specific locations like your kitchen table or the breakroom. When you sit down to a meal, think about where your food originated. Consider the workers who harvested your vegetables and the clerks who stocked the shelves where you shop. Pause to give a moment of thanks that you have nourishment. Many people aren’t that fortunate.
7. Feed Your Brain With Uplifting Thoughts
We live in a connected world. Every time we log into social media or flip on the television, we bathe our brains in messages. How uplifting is the information we feed our minds?
To cultivate more mindfulness and positivity in your life, pay attention to the messages in which you immerse yourself. Instead of flipping on the news when you get home from work, put on some music that improves your mood. When you go online, stay out of flame wars and drama on social media. Tune into a positivity podcast instead.
8. Move Your Body With Meaning
Exercise can feel fantastic – yes, really! The trick is finding a workout that you love, like Zumba or Pound. If you’re a social butterfly, joining a gym might motivate you to get moving, if only to see your fitness centre best friend. Perhaps you enjoy more solitary endeavours? If so, try long-distance running or hiking to get away from it all. If you have little ones consider a fun and educational game you can play outside together. While you sweat it up, pay attention to how your body feels. Revel in your increased heart rate and raised body temperature.
9. Listen To The People You Love
When your child tells you about the grade they earned on their spelling test, do you mutter, “Um, hmm?” Make your little one feel more special by taking the time to listen to them tell you about their day actively. Bring back the family dinner hour, and make it a practice to give each family member 2-3 minutes to share openly. While they talk, be present at the moment and listen. Nod and commiserate. This active response validates their feelings and makes you feel closer.
10. Create A Bedtime Ritual
Do you toss and turn every night? While racing thoughts may prevent you from getting your Zzz’s, you’re not practicing mindfulness by fretting.
Instead, create a bedtime ritual. Power down devices like cellphones and computers 30 minutes before hitting the hay and keep them out of the bedroom. Sip a cup of chamomile tea while reading a book or take a relaxing bubble bath. Practice some gentle stretches or write in a gratitude journal. Rituals help you unplug and consciously shift your brain into sleep mode.
Practice Mindfulness Every Day in Many Ways
You can practice mindfulness in little ways every day. The cumulative effect results in a happier, healthier life overall.
Jennifer Landis is a mum, wife, writer, and blogger at Mindfulness Mama. She enjoys yoga, tacos, and drinking all of the tea she can find. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.