Mindfulness is the practice of consciously bringing your attention to the present moment. When we are present in the here and now, we are less likely to be stressed or anxious about the future.
Science supports the amazing benefits of mindfulness in reducing chronic pain, managing anxiety and depression symptoms, improving sleep and concentration, and importantly reducing stress!
Here are 5 ways that you can incorporate mindfulness into your life today!
1. Practice Meditation
Meditation can seem daunting and scary, but it really doesn’t have to be!
There are SO many scientific benefits of meditation. From increased memory and attention, lower blood pressure, reduced pain levels, and decreases in stress, anxiety and depression, the list of benefits is long!
Meditation doesn’t have to be sitting cross-legged chanting om. It can be practised in many different forms. There are so many easy and accessible apps now that can help you get started and develop a great meditation practice.
From breathing techniques, to body scans, visualisations or relaxing music, you can find something that feels right for you.
Here are some great resources to help you get started:
2. Get Outside Into Nature
Being out in nature is a really nice way of being able to return to the present moment and break any negative emotional states.
Nature has many proven healing benefits ranging from lowering cortisol levels, to regulating emotions.
You can listen to the birds sing, the wind blowing gently through the trees, water trickling or waves crashing, the feeling of fresh air in your lungs – whatever is there for you to direct your attention to in the moment.
Each time your mind wanders (which it will!) just gently redirect it back to the present.
3. Connect With Your 5 Senses
One of the easiest and most accessible ways to practice mindfulness is to utilise your 5 senses.
When you do this, you are returning your attention to the present moment and what is in-front of you, which is a really powerful way to move out of anxiety.
It can be as easy as noticing the way that the water and soap feels on your body when you are in the shower, or the warmth and texture of the bubbly water when you are washing up.
Or paying attention to all the features and details on people’s faces when you are talking to them; notice the way that they smile, how they move, how their eyes change when they speak.
Or if you enjoy cooking, try paying attention to all the different smells, colours and textures whilst you are preparing your meals. See if you can pick out each ingredient by scent!
You can practice this technique literally any place any time!
4. Eat Mindfully
Mindful eating is the practice of paying attention and bringing your full awareness to the act of eating – slowing down and savouring each bite and enjoying the full flavour, texture and experience of your meal.
This means not multi-tasking whilst you are eating – (sorry that includes not eating a whole block of chocolate whilst watching Netflix.😜)
Connect with your food. Think about where it has come from, how it is going to nourish your body and mind.
It also means being aware of why you are eating in the first place; checking in with whether you are hungry, tired, emotional, bored, eating out of habit, or maybe just because the food is yummy? None of these answers are ‘wrong‘, the key is to become aware.
Studies show that mindful eating can have the added bonus of improving your relationship with food, by bringing intention and awareness to what – and how much food you are putting into your body.
5. Check in with your breath
Your breath is one of the most powerful tools we have to control our emotional and physical state.
Because life can be busy and stressful – we can all fall into the habit of shallow breathing, which sends a signal to our brain that we are under stress – which leads to a stress response within the body.
Luckily, the opposite is also true – by consciously slowing and deepening our breath, we can relax our body and mind within minutes.
There are many breathing techniques you can try, but here is a basic, effective exercise that you can start with.
Yoga is also a really powerful way of connecting to the power of your breath, and learning how to unite the breath with your body. I love Yoga With Adriene, her free YouTube videos are fantastic, and cater to everyone. Being online also means that you can do it from the comfort of your living room floor in your PJ’s!