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Mindfulness Tips

It is way too easy to get wrapped up in the hecticness that is our day to day lives. How many times have you noticed yourself over planning, replaying past events, daydreaming, or thinking negative thoughts. While these types of thoughts are extremely common, they can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and depression. However, there is something that you can do to combat this way of thinking. Mindfulness is a type of mental exercise that encourages you to be fully present in the current moment without interpretation or judgment.

Mindfulness allows you to focus on all your senses and notice what you are experiencing and feeling in the now. Mindfulness is something that can be practiced in almost any place at any time. Even simple everyday tasks such as eating and brushing your teeth can be done mindfully. You can also engage in more structured mindfulness activities and set aside time to be in a quiet place without distractions. Engaging in mindfulness can be difficult at first, but with practice it can become effortless.

There are countless of ways in which you can incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine, such as:

  • Pay attention: It’s really difficult in today's day and age to take time to stop and smell the roses. Every day, you should consciously make an effort to take time to experience your surroundings. Using all your senses, notice what you can taste, touch, hear, see, smell. In addition to focusing more on your environment, you should also make time to pay attention to what you are experiencing inwards and notice what your body is experiencing. For example, if you have tension in your neck, notice it without judging it.

  • Focus on your breathing: Breathing is something that we subconsciously do all the time. Focusing on your breath can help you disengage from negative and distracting thoughts and sensations. First, just bring your attention to your normal breathing. Then try to deep breath by breathing in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth. Notice how your chest and stomach rise and fall as you breathe. Once you get the hang of breath focus, you can move on to engaging in different controlled breathing exercises such as belly breathing or alternate nostril breathing.

  • Body scan meditation: Get yourself in a comfortable position. Preferably lying down or sitting with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly focus your attention on each part of your body as you scan your focus from your toes to head. Be sure to pay attention to any feelings, sensations or thoughts that you notice with each part of your body.

  • Meditation: Meditation is extremely beneficial for understanding your experience of pain, lowering stress, improving focus, and reducing ruminating thoughts. To begin you should find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet or where you can drown out any background noise. Set a goal for how much time you plan to meditate for. Beginners should choose a short amount of time like five or ten minutes. Then close your eyes and start to notice your body and the way it is positioned before moving on to focus on your breath. Inevitably, your mind will wander. When you finally notice that your mind is wandering simply return your attention back to your breath. Do not judge yourself if you find yourself struggling to maintain focus. Just note that it occurred and refocus on the meditation. When you are ready to end your meditation, open your eyes and take a moment to notice the environment around you and how your body feels in the present. If meditation is hard for you, you may prefer to start with guided meditations. There are many great options for guided meditations available for free online.

  • Walking meditation: Mindfulness is something that can be done while completing regular daily activities. The next time you go for a walk, you can make it a mindful walk. Focus on the experience of walking by bringing your awareness to the sensations you feel as you stand and the subtle movements that help keep your balance. Notice your strides and your pace as you move. Notice the sensation of the sun on your face or the wind in your hair.

  • Shower mindfully: As you step into the shower, take a moment to adjust the temperature before focusing on your breath. As you do so, slowly shift your focus to the way the water feels as it runs down your body. Notice the temperature and the pressure. While completing your shower routine, consciously focus on the sensations you experience such as the smell of your soap or the texture of your loofah. If you notice your mind wandering, just return your focus back to the present task. Once you are ready, you can step out of the shower hopefully feeling more relaxed than when you stepped in.

  • Eat mindfully: Before you start to eat, check in with yourself to find out how hungry you are. Think about why you want to eat and what would satisfy that hunger. Make sure that you are fully present in the moment as you begin to eat. Turn off and put away any distractions or devices. When you take your first bite, take a moment to consider all the sensations you experience like the smell of your food, the different textures you feel, the taste, etc. After each bite check in with your body to see how you are feeling and ask yourself if you need another bite to feel full.

Written by,

Tierney Puig, Intern



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