Mindfulness has started to receive growing attention in today’s world. With the fast-paced and technologically advanced lifestyle of the current times, it’s not that surprising.
What exactly is mindfulness? People sometimes mistake it for meditation. But mindfulness is simply the practice of bringing one’s attention to the present moment. And meditation is one of the ways you can do that, but definitely not the only one. There are several ways you can practice mindfulness.
Why should you do it, though? The benefits you can reap from this simple practice is manifold. From reducing stress and decreasing burnout to boosting resilience and enhancing the ability to deal with illness, mindfulness has been found to have several physiological and psychological benefits. Today, however, I’m not delving in-depth into the benefits of mindfulness but some simple ways that you can easily incorporate it into your daily life to reap those benefits.
Again, mindfulness is not meditation. Meditation is just one way to practice mindfulness. And that being said, you don’t have to go to a mountain range or be a mediation guru to practice mindfulness. Anybody and everybody can do it. Just like anything in life, all you have to do is give it some time and effort. So here are 7 simple mindfulness habits you can easily incorporate into your daily life. Most of these are so simple, in fact, you don’t have to take extra time for it, it’s a part of your daily life already.
1. Mindful eating
Mindful eating would be one of the easiest ways to practice mindfulness. As you eat multiple times every day, you don’t have to find extra time for it. Mindfully eating is simply being aware of what you are eating. Being aware of the taste and smell, and your body sensations.
Nowadays, we often eat while doing something else; while watching TV or scrolling through your phone. To practice mindful eating, all you have to do is simply do nothing else other than eating. Remember, the idea is bringing your awareness to the present moment, so focus on the food in front of you and your eating. Don’t think about what your next schedule is, past experiences or future plans. If you’ve always been the kind to rush through your meals, doing this may make you realise that you never really tasted the food you ate.
2. While showering
Showering or taking a bath is another regular mundane activity that we all do. And so is another perfect time to practice mindfulness. How many of us actually enjoy the shower we take? A lot of us do sometimes, but a lot of us also rush through it in the morning before school or work, or at night before bed. Taking the time to really enjoy and be with yourself in this short time can be really beneficial in the long run. Just 2-3 minutes is enough for a good mindfulness exercise. Forget about that one time you slipped and fell, embarrassing yourself, or about the paper that’s due soon, and just think about the now. Let yourself immerse and enjoy the cool (or warm) shower.
3. One minute before bed
Take just one minute before you sleep to focus on your body, your sensations and your surroundings. You can either lie down in bed or be sat on it, however you feel comfortable, and take a moment to focus on your breathing. Every inhale and exhale. Starting from the top of your head, focus on your body sensations, how it all feels. Your head, forehead, eyes and nose, all the way to your fingertips, abdomen and toes. Then focus on your surroundings, any noise, smell or sense of touch.
Once you take a full round of exploration of your whole body and your surrounding, notice how you feel after it. Relaxed? Or maybe not? Remember, there is no perfect and continuous awareness. Your mind will wander for sure in any mindfulness exercise. The key is to notice that the mind has wandered, and bring the attention back to your breath and body.
4. Mindful colouring
This is one of my favourite things to do to practice mindfulness. If you make art, be it any form of painting, drawing, or crafting, then that is your mindful moments. Mindful colouring is just what it says; colouring mindfully. There are now adult colouring books available just for this purpose. You can also simply look up online for some line drawings or mindfulness colouring pages, print them out, and colour away.
During one of my counselling classes at university, our professor gave us these colouring pages and asked us to fill it up from home and bring back. Since it was a sort of homework, and since we also had other assignments, I was quite stressed out about doing it (which was contrary to the whole point of it). But once I started, after a few minutes, I realised how calming it really is. It actually made me relaxed, it was surprisingly refreshing.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be colouring. What I usually do is doodle aimlessly without thought. So the next time you feel stressed/overwhelmed, try getting out some line drawings/colouring pages (if you’re intimidated by a blank page), sit down in a quiet space, and start colouring, then observe how you feel.
5. While doing chores
Chores are another mindless activity that we regularly do. And so is another great time to incorporate mindfulness. Perhaps while doing the dishes, folding your laundry, or vacuuming the floor, try to focus merely on the task at hand. Often, we don’t really think about what we are doing while completing this kind of tasks. So the next time you do chores, observe yourself. Stop yourself from thinking about that one mistake you made at work or contemplating your next plan of action. Just focus on the present moment.
6. Pick a cue to start focusing on your breath
This is an exciting one! Pick a cue, such that whenever you see/hear it you start focusing on your breath. Maybe a colour, or something you see every day at home or on your way to school/work. For instance, if you chose the colour yellow as your cue, every time you see this colour, focus on your breath. Your chosen cue can act as a reminder for you to stop and take a deep breath. Then for a minute, focus on your inhales and exhales. Do not try to change the rhythm of your breath, rather try to be aware of your natural involuntary state of breathing. This might be hard to follow through at first, but if you set your mind to it, it can be really beneficial.
7. Mindful in social media
This, rather than an actual mindfulness exercise, is more of something to stop doing. One of the most mindless activities that we do in today’s life is scrolling through social media purposelessly. Sometimes, hours pass by without notice. So the next time you open any social media app, catch yourself there! Remind yourself that you are only going to check any notifications or messages, maybe scroll through for a few seconds and done. No more. Perhaps, you should consider switching off some pointless notifications so that you can reduce the trigger to go online in the first place. Smartphones these days also have functions to create time limits on apps. Make use of them when you can’t depend on your conscious mind to not get sucked in the endless loop of scrolling.
There’s your list of simple mindfulness habits that you can easily incorporate into your daily life. I really hope you found it useful and the try them out.