Mindfulness: How Does it Work in Everyday Life?
Life can be stressful: Work, family, travel, health. There are lots of areas of our lives that require our time and effort, and trying to balance everything is often stressful. Sometimes we can end-up charging through life like we’re on autopilot, focussing on trying to complete tasks, rather than being present and fully experiencing them. This is where Mindfulness comes in.
Mindfulness is similar to meditation, and although it has it’s roots in Buddhism, it isn’t a religious practice. It is a thought process, which aims to help us pay more attention to the things that are going on in our lives. This is to help you to process things, and take control over your emotions and responses. A simple definition might be: Mindfulness is about learning to focus our attention. Mindfulness can have a strongly positive impact on our mental health, by helping us to keep calm in situations and not get stressed, but this is not something that is easy. Our minds usually work in a completely different way, the way which causes us stress. With Mindfulness, we can regain more control over our own lives, and most importantly our health! But it isn’t something you can just do, like meditation, in a 10-minute session. It’s something that has to be practiced daily. If you’re ready to try it, then let’s look at some ways we can be mindful in our everyday lives: 1. Pay Attention in Daily Activities Monotonous, repetitive activities that we do every day are times when we are most likely to ‘zone-out’ and not be mindful of experiencing these things. When doing the dishes, for example, practice mindfulness by focussing your attention on what you’re doing, and tune your senses into what they are experiencing. For example, be aware of the feel of the warm, soapy water on your hands, the cleaning of the individual dishes, the smell of the dish-soap. Whether you’re showering, cooking, brushing your hair, or getting dressed, mindfulness can be practiced in any of these everyday routine scenarios. You’ll find these activities can be more interesting than you ever knew. 2. Mindful When Queueing Queues are a classic everyday situation where we can be overcome with emotion. Normally this is anger, impatience or irritation. But by being mindful, we can help to fight, and take control over, these stress-causing emotions. Instead of responding as you usually would, in your head, focus your attention on the situation. Focus on your own breathing, notice the feelings of others around you, and consider the situation as it actually is - nothing too serious! This will help you to avoid becoming agitated and stressed over the situation. 3. Start Your Day Right When you first wake up, it can be tempting to launch straight into your day. To immediately think about all the tasks you need to accomplish that day, or to reach for your phone, computer or television. Instead, why not take a few minutes just to sit, let your mind wander, and be in the moment. This prevents your day becoming as routine as any other, and helps you establish mindfulness into the day which helps you to experience things that you do, rather than immediately switching to ‘autopilot’. 4. Set Yourself Reminders Obviously, as mentioned, life can be extremely stressful, and there will be days where you’re so overcome with tasks or activities that you forget to be mindful. To minimise occurrences like this, why not choose something that you see every day and use it as a reminder of mindfulness. It could be an object like your favourite mug, or a piece of furniture you see when you wake up, or even a family member or loved-one. The important thing is that it helps you remember to practice mindfulness that day. 5. Be Mindful When You Eat Eating is another daily activity during which it’s great to be mindful. It’s easy to find ourselves shoveling food into our mouth without thinking about enjoying the taste, the flavours and the feel of our food. Being mindful also means concentrating on how your body feels, whether or not you feel full and how what you’re eating is impacting your body. Through being mindful in this way, we encourage ourselves to not overeat, to eat more healthily and most importantly, to enjoy our food!