In a world seemingly fuelled by rushing and stress, mindfulness provides a peace-inducing mindset into your day to stop you from feeling overwhelmed.
Most of us have forgotten how to love in the moment and frequently find our thoughts living in the past or the future. Mindfulness teaches us how to stay in the moment – something we all desperately need.
And, if you think mindfulness isn’t for you, you probably haven’t found the right activity that works for you. Mindfulness doesn’t have to be restricted to meditation; it can be more active.
So, no matter what your preferences are, you’re bound to find the technique that works for you in this post.
How can mindfulness enhance your day?
Mindfulness has become so popular in recent years that everyone from professional athletes to CEO’s are implementing mindful moments into their days to improve their wellbeing and performance.
But why exactly is mindfulness so highly regarded?
Firstly, staying present decreases your stress by helping you turn the volume down on negative thoughts that can spiral into a stressful experience. Not to mention, it reduces your blood pressure, which also helps reduce stress.
Secondly, mindfulness helps improve your self-confidence by giving you the strength to worry less and take more action on what you want.
Mindfulness also helps to treat mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Depression is seen as ‘living in the past’, and anxiety is seen as ‘living in the future.’ So it makes sense that a practice centred on keeping your mind in the present will help in the battle against anxiety and depression.
Finally, mindfulness boosts creativity by clearing the ‘mental junk drawer’ and leaving space for creative thoughts to flow.
Seven beneficial mindfulness techniques
The below techniques are simple ways to include mindful activities into your day. If you are new to mindfulness techniques, then choose only one from the list and incorporate it at some point during your day. As you practice mindfulness, start to incorporate more of the techniques into your daily mindfulness routine.
Guided meditations allow you to focus on the present by tuning in to your body sensations. The most common example of this is the body scan. As you meditate, you are guided to notice any sensations you feel in each part of your body, moving slowly through the body throughout the meditation.
If you are a meditation novice, you will find your thoughts often stray away from your body and into something else. Guided meditations teach you how to keep your mind focused on the present by asking you to label your thought as a thought then allowing it to simply float on by without giving it attention.
This practice is excellent to help those who deal with overthinking and intrusive thoughts learn how to not indulge said thoughts, so they don’t spiral out of control into fear and worry.
Apps like Calm and Headspace offer multiple guided meditation audio clips for you to use and have a mindful moment at any point throughout your stressful day.
And if you think that guided meditation has to be long to be effective, you would be mistaken. All it takes is one minute to start feeling the positive effects of mindfulness meditation.
Ideally, practice this in the morning to feel the lasting effects throughout the rest of your day and set the tone for staying present in the face of stress.
Take a walk outside
Taking a mindful moment each day need not be an arduous task. In fact, something as simple as walking in nature is a beneficial way to practice mindfulness. Whether you go to a park, walking trail, or simple stomp the concrete pavements in your area, getting outside will help you stay present.
To unlock the mindfulness potential of your walk, pay attention to the sounds and views that surround you. What do you notice? Take note of everything you see, hear, and smell.
This will allow your brain to focus on the present, removing the space for your mind to wander. However, as with mindful meditation, if you do find thoughts popping into your mind, simply allow them to pass through without engaging.
And if you do find your mind wandering, simply bring it back to the present by re-focusing on the world around you.
Listen to music or an audiobook
Mindful listening is all about paying attention to the sounds you hear: the words, the instruments, the noises.
By using music or audiobooks, it allows you to practice your mindful listening. This is a good option for people who want a creative, entertaining version of mindfulness.
When you listen to someone speaking, you need to be actively listening instead of letting your thoughts run wild to fully engage and understand what is being said. So what better way to practice than with an enjoyable book or song?
Experiment with your favourite songs – have you ever listened to every single word in the song? Noticed the feeling being portrayed by the instruments and the voice of the singer?
Journaling for mindfulness is all about getting what’s on your mind out onto the page. With so many thoughts flying around in your head, it can be difficult to rein them in. But when you put them on the page, it allows you to feel a sense of resolution, which in turn helps you feel more present.
One such journaling technique for mindfulness is known as morning pages. Created by Julia Cameron, the use of morning pages will help clear your mind and unleash your creativity, keeping you grounded in the present.
To do morning pages, you will write three pages of text each morning. But not just any text. Your conscious stream of thought. Whatever pops into your head for the duration of the three pages is exactly what you write down.
The result is freeing yourself of anxious thoughts and clearing space to stay present, ready to take on the day calmly and with confidence.
Similarly, doing a ‘brain dump’ is a less structured version of morning pages, where you simply pick up your journal and write down exactly what is on your mind at that moment, for however long or short you need to. It’s a great tool to use when you feel overwhelmed by your thoughts and can be done whenever you need to clear your mind.
There is room for mindfulness throughout your entire day, and this extends to mealtimes. Mindful eating is a technique that was created to help people with disordered eating improve their relationship with food. But we can all benefit from eating more mindfully.
What this means is savouring every bite of food, chewing slowly, and focusing on the tastes and textures of each mouthful. It extends to being mindful about the food you use, where it is sourced, and how it is prepared. It is also essential to eat in a distraction-free environment, either alone or with loved ones.
The truth is, a lot of us have developed the unhealthy habit of eating on the go or while distracted by work or TV. And this can cause negative consequences when it comes to recognising our natural, physical hunger cues.
By taking the time to be mindful when eating, you are able to slow down and enjoy your meal while retraining your body to recognise hunger cues and improving your digestion.
So turn off the TV, and get your whole family involved in mindful eating at meal times!
Art therapy to help mental health has become extremely popular over the past years. And that is because it allows you to stay present and clear your mind.
One such way is to use adult colouring books to destress and focus your mind on colouring instead of allowing your thoughts to wander and spiral into anxious or depressing places.
Similarly, doodling allows you to disconnect and engage your brain at the same time. It has been proven that doodling helps with stress, which in turn helps keep you present.
Any creative endeavour you enjoy can work as art therapy. But, if you need proof it works, ask Olympic diver Tom Daley. During the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Tom was spotted knitting between events and performances to keep his mind present and focused.
Yoga is a great way to take a more active approach to mindfulness. This exercise, routed in spiritual traditions, encourages you to stay present while slowly moving your body into various poses.
As you practice yoga, pay attention to the sensations in your body. For example, how does your body feel through each move? This will allow you to feel where you hold tension and release it.
The good thing about yoga is it can be done alone or in classes – it just depends on your preferences. And being such a popular form of mindfulness, if you do choose to do it at home, you’ll find thousands of helpful videos on YouTube to guide you through each movement.
It doesn’t take long to feel the benefits of yoga, either. Just 10 minutes a day will help keep you present and relaxed.
Tips to help you incorporate mindfulness into your schedule
If you are a mindfulness novice, you might feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start. Use these tips to make mindfulness a part of your daily routine.
Take it slow
You don’t have to spend hours on mindfulness to feel the benefits. And if it doesn’t come naturally to you, trying to force yourself to spend a long time on these activities will undoubtedly cause you to give up before you reap the rewards.
So aim to just start with a few minutes every day and build it up once you feel comfortable to do so.
The most important thing is that you make mindfulness a habit before worrying about each activity's duration.
Not every technique works for every person, so it is up to you to find the ones that do. This means giving each method a few weeks to work and moving on to another one if it doesn’t.
Remember that everyone is different, and it is not your fault if something doesn’t work for you; it simply means it wasn’t right for you.
In the same sentiment, feel free to tweak the techniques to suit you – as long as they focus on being present, there is no reason you can’t adapt some of the techniques listed to make them work in your daily schedule.
Be kind to yourself
Mindfulness is all about being present, but it is natural for thoughts to wander away to focus on stressful situations from the past or anticipated in the future.
Many people try to stop negative thoughts from entering their minds. And every time, they fail. Why? Because you can’t control the thoughts that pop into your head. Mindfulness is about choosing where to focus your energy rather than avoiding thoughts.
Think of it as a garden. Being present is the beautiful flowers, and the negative or wandering thoughts are the weeds. You can never fully get rid of the weeds, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful garden. Instead, focus on watering the flowers so they can grow stronger and ignore the weeds – their presence doesn’t change the flowers overwhelming presence.
There is no such thing as failing in mindfulness
Growing up, we are taught to see things as success or failure. At school, our grades determined this, and later in life, we attribute our goals and endeavour to success or failure.
When you change your expectations of mindfulness, you’ll learn you can never fail at it. You will always either successfully stay present or successfully learn what went wrong for next time. Either way, no attempt at mindfulness is a failure, so don’t let that fear hold you back from trying.
Mindfulness is one of the most underrated tools available to us all in order to improve our quality of life and allow us to live a more fulfilled existence.
While most mindfulness conversation is centred around meditation, this is just one of many ways you can practice being in the moment. And once you find the techniques that work for you, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without them!
So do yourself a favour and make mindfulness a part of your daily routine. I promise you won't regret it!