By: Tatiana Britton
How often do you sit through a conversation with a friend or family member, and realize that you spent the whole time thinking about what you have on your to-do list? What about when you drive home—Do you always remember your drive there or are you more surprised that you made it there safely? Do most of your thoughts consist of traveling down memory lane and/or worrying about the daunting future? It’s quite saddening to think how much of our lives we truly miss out on by living in our dream-like state of mind. It’s not only saddening but also detrimental to our health because it increases levels of stress and anxiety. However, small mindfulness practices can be implemented daily which will improve your awareness in the present moment and will improve your health.
Regularly practicing mindfulness is found to improve both physical and mental health. Research finds that the habitual practice of mindfulness can help with relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, reducing chronic pain, slowing down progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia and improving sleep. It has also been found to decrease depression and anxiety disorders, reduce feelings of loneliness and increase overall well-being. By simply shifting your daily mindset, you can improve your quality of life!
So how can you begin practicing mindfulness to gain these benefits?
Mindfulness is commonly practiced and heard of as meditation, but it is not the only form of practice. Meditation is effective but there are various other methods available to improve self-awareness, that can be easily added into anyone’s schedule. Check out the 3 practices listed below to begin incorporating mindfulness into your daily life.
1. No matter what’s on your schedule, lead each day judgement free
The future and past are both artificial! Think about that! The only real time is the present moment. What happened in the past, is gone and not promised to occur again and the future is completely unknown. Go into each day, event, meeting, etc. with no positive or negative judgement. For example: You have a meeting with your boss who is constantly in a bad mood. Rather than expecting your next meeting with him to be equally as awful don’t expect anything at all. Go in with zero expectation! This can go the other way, too. Perhaps you had an awesome experience at a concert of your favorite artist last year. You’re seeing them again this year. You can be excited, but don’t go in with the same expectations as the prior year. We are naturally judgement-based people, so take small steps in this practice. Challenge yourself to apply this mindset, to at least one thing daily, and watch your attitude and energy begin to evolve.
2. Put the phone down and listen completely
These can be two separate tasks, but they typically go hand in hand. When people are talking to us, we get lost in our own day dreams. It is also common to be absorbed in our cell phones. Place your phone on silent and set it screen down away from you. Now you can wholeheartedly listen to the individual who is speaking to you. Seems easy right? Well, the first part is done. Now, be aware of getting lost in your own thoughts. It happens fast. Make a goal of staying fully in tune to the person with eye contact and awareness of each word they speak.
3. Recollect at the end of your day
Rather than just going through your normal nightly routine and rushing off to bed, take the time to think of the day you had. You can do this while you’re in bed but try not to fall asleep before doing so! Find one thing you were thankful for and completely immerse into that thought. This type of mindfulness practice will prepare and remind you to be aware in every day, so that you can clearly reflect at the end of the night. It will also allow you to head into your dreams with a positive attitude.
Mindfulness won’t ever necessarily be easy, considering the busy brained humans we are. Good news is: As you get into the flow of your practice, you will be able to find what you need to work on and what comes naturally to you. As you become more mindful in your daily habits, you will also become more aware of the positive results that you are gaining because of your new mindset. Start implementing these small habits now and enjoy the rewards that come your way. Just don’t get caught up in the future waiting for them!