It seems in the past few years, everyone is touting the benefits of mindfulness. But what is mindfulness exactly, and how can you benefit from being more mindful in your daily life? Mindfulness is the practice of intentional focus and the art of being present in the moment. It’s often used as a therapeutic technique and includes being fully accepting of your own thoughts, emotions, and experiences, free of judgement of ourselves and others.
Why Practice Mindfulness?
Practicing mindfulness meditation even for a short duration has been found to have benefits on the brain and immune system. Another study found that “mindfulness meditation may alter the efficiency of allocating cognitive resources, leading to improved self-regulation of attention,” indicating potential benefits for those who suffer from ADHD or other conditions that impact memory, concentration, and ability to focus, or for those who wish to improve in these areas.
Other research has found that mindfulness contributes to various positive psychological effects, such as enhanced well-being, reduced emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation. It can also help you energize for physical activity such as playing sports or working out at the gym. Finally, mindfulness can help you sleep better by relieving the underlying factors that contribute to insomnia such as stress, anxiety, and depression. And when you sleep better, you’re better able to function at your best during the day.
Simple Steps to Practice Mindfulness
1. Do just one thing at a time, and do it both slowly and deliberately.
That also means doing less, which allows you to focus greater concentration on the tasks to which you dedicate your time.
2. Write down your top three priorities for each day at the start of the day.
By prioritizing your most critical tasks and documenting them, you can free your mind from the constant thoughts and worries that plague you all day regarding whether you’re meeting the obligations that are most important.
3. Practice mindfulness meditation and relaxation techniques.
There are a variety of approaches to meditation that can help you become more mindful. Meditation and relaxation techniques can help you learn to let go and accept your thoughts and experiences as well as those of the people around you.
4. Learn to narrow your focus and bring awareness to the sensation of your breathing.
This technique is useful for switching your gears and resetting your attitude when you’re experiencing frustration or confusion.
5. Find an outlet for your creative energy.
Mindfulness is said to enhance creativity, and those creative endeavors can help you become more mindful, too. Channeling your creative energy into painting, writing, dancing, or some other form of art can help you release tensions, let go of stress, and improve your overall well-being.
6. Allow yourself to daydream. There’s value in doing nothing and letting your mind wander.
In fact, taking a few minutes to allow your mind to wander wherever it goes can be incredibly powerful. Researchers at UCSB’s Meta Lab found evidence to suggest that “mind-wandering can enable prospective cognitive operations that are likely to be useful as individuals navigate through their daily lives.” If you have access to a pool, it can be very calming to relax in the water to let your thoughts take you where they want to (it doesn’t hurt to burn some calories while you’re in there either).Letting your mind wander for a few minutes or doing nothing and simply just “being” can re-energize you to tackle those three top priorities you’ve documented for the day.
Mindfulness is more than simple meditation; it’s a way of living. Mindfulness takes practice and can often be unique to the individuals who practice it, but working towards a more mindful lifestyle can offer tremendous benefits for those who commit to mindfulness. With so many ways to practice mindfulness, a few simple changes to your day-to-day routine and your approach to life can offer dramatic shifts in psychological well-being.
Paige Johnson is a self-described fitness “nerd.” She possesses a love for strength training. In addition to weight-lifting, she is a yoga enthusiast, avid cyclist, and loves exploring hiking trails with her dogs. She enjoys writing about health and fitness for LearnFit.org
Image via Pixabay by johnhain