4 Things You Need To Know About Mindfulness: Mindfulness 101
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is something that’s spoken about a lot nowadays. How we can be more mindful, how to add mindful moments to our day, etc. But what exactly is mindfulness? And how does it apply to your life? Most importantly, how does mindfulness help you manage your stress before your stress manages you? Intrigued? Well read on to find out all about the basics of mindfulness.
Mindfulness Is Being Present
The first thing that you need to know about mindfulness is that it means you’re fully focused on what is happening in the here and now. But that doesn’t mean that you overreact or become flustered by what is going on.
Instead, being mindful is being present in the moment with your full self and your full attention. Of course, being human, sometimes your attention may drift away from the current time and place, but mindfulness will help you snap right back to where you are right now. Mindfulness also means acceptance of the person you are, just as you are.
Mindfulness Isn’t Just In Your Head
Mindfulness is something that of course focuses on your thoughts, however, that does not mean that your body is not involved. Mindfulness helps form a true mind-body connection.
For example, one component of mindfulness involves checking in with your body during the day to see how you’re feeling. As this becomes something that you do regularly, you become more in tune with your body and the natural processes which occur without you even noticing, such as your breathing and heartbeat. This can have a relaxing effect, which will help you combat anxiety and physical pain, which may be the result of mental stress or anguish.
Is Mindfulness Something Difficult To Do?
Mindfulness is something that anyone can do. Of course, it takes practice to embrace mindfulness, but this practice isn’t anything complicated. Depending on what works best for you, your mindfulness practice can be taking a moment to focus on your present, making time to cultivate a meditation practice or incorporating journaling into your morning or evening routine.
Let’s take a look at what a self-check in might look like.
You can start by pausing during your daily activities and ask yourself some questions. How are your thoughts? Are they where they are supposed to be? If not, adjust them.
Then, take a few deep breaths while checking in with the different parts of your body. Do you have pain anywhere? Are you holding in stress? If so, this is the perfect time to figure out what’s going on and start taking action to resolve these stresses in your body. Sometimes, breathing deeply can help. If not, then you may need to look at your diet or your level of daily exercise.
After your check in you can resume your day in a more mindful state. Even if later you need to dig deeper and figure out what your stressors are and how they can be resolved.
Why Is Mindfulness So Important?
So now that we know what mindfulness is, let’s take a look at why so many people consider it such an important part of a healthy stress management and self-care practice. The biggest reason is that being mindful has the power to change many different aspects of your life.
Mindfulness Helps With Mental Health
Worry is like stress – a killer. Spending your time worrying about all the things happening now and what might happen in the future, can open you up to stress or mental health concerns.
To lower your stress levels, it’s crucial to be mindful of what’s going on in your life and how you feel about and respond to those situations. Knowing this helps you develop a game plan to cope which can help you be more at peace mentally and keep your brain feeling fresh.
Mindfulness Boosts Creativity
As I’ve said before, creativity is a form of self-care. Not only does mindfulness help preserve your mental health, but it also nurtures your creativity. And creativity comes in handy when you’re overcoming life’s challenges.
Putting on your creative thinking cap allows you to develop SMART goals so that you can create a step-by-step solution to the challenge you’re facing. Using the body scan and check-in mindfulness techniques you can see how you’re reacting physically and emotionally to both the situation and your solutions.
Mindfulness Keeps You Healthy
Besides helping you mentally, mindfulness helps you physically as well. The peace that it helps integrate into your life works to improve immune function so that you can stay healthy and fight off infections more quickly when you do get sick.
So as we’ve seen, the importance of mindfulness is that it helps you mind, body and soul. Which means if you want to lower your stress and become more in touch with your inner self, so that you can live your best life, it’s time to start being more mindful today.
The Benefits Of Mindfulness
Okay, so far we’ve talked about what mindfulness is and why it’s important. Now we’re going to take a look at four tangible benefits you receive when you integrate a mindfulness practice into your self-care routine.
If you’re like most people, you live a busy life that is often full of stress. Which you know has been proven to be bad for your body and mind. Working on becoming more mindful helps reduce stress along with improving your focus and efficiency, which are often impeded by the effects of stress.
Do you sometimes have trouble sleeping at night? Mindfulness can help. It helps you become more attuned to your thoughts and how your body is feeling. Allowing you to take action in reducing your stress which often is a big factor in insomnia. The hope is that ultimately mindfulness will help you sleep more deeply and wake feeling more rested.
As you delve deeper into your mindfulness practice, you become more attuned to your emotions and are better able to regulate your reactions to stressful situations. Having this control helps when you’re sharing your life with another person. It can help you become more empathetic and understanding of your partner’s struggles which helps to improve your relationship.
As I’ve said earlier one of the great benefits of having a mindfulness practice is being more in touch with your inner self. This knowledge of self can help you feel happier and more fulfilled. This is because part of mindfulness is learning who you are and how to accept yourself and your life as it is.
When you’re creating your SMART goals to help deal with your life circumstances or desires, it also helps to create a backup plan. That way you will be less likely to be thrown off when something in your life doesn’t go as planned, and able to move forward with your life with ease.
Of course, these aren’t all the benefits of mindfulness, but it’s a good start. The benefits you will experience will transform your life in several ways increasing your life satisfaction.
5 Different Ways to Practice Mindfulness
Okay, so now we’re in the home stretch. At this point you should have a good grasp of what mindfulness is and why it’s beneficial to you.
At this point, I may have you convinced that a mindfulness practice is a great tool to add to your self-care toolbox, but you may be asking, “How do I start?” Well, you’re in luck. Below you’ll find 5 easy peasy ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life.
The best way to increase mindfulness in your life is by setting aside time every day to meditate. Meditation creates a space for you to spend quality time with yourself! It allows you to evaluate both your emotions as well as your physical feelings. It can also help relieve stress and induce a calmer demeanor. If you want to become more mindful, you really must spend time in meditation each day.
2. Spend Time Outside
Spending time outside in the fresh air and connecting with nature can do wonders for your spirit. And best of all, you don’t need special equipment or training to implement this in your life. Start by going for a walk in your favorite park and paying attention to all the scenery around you.
3. Start Your Day With A Purpose
Another way to practice mindfulness is by starting all your days with a clear purpose. This is where a morning routine comes into play. When done right, it helps you start the day relaxed and prepared for what’s to come.
I’ve written about morning routines in posts that you can find here but basically a morning routine can consist of anything that helps you spend time with yourself. Some mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your morning routine are: meditating when you first wake up, completing breathing exercises, or even going for a nature walk before work.
4. Mindful Eating
Because we’re often busy, meals have become quick periods where you eat as fast as possible so that you can get to your next activity. Instead, try to eat mindfully. Slow down, take each bite with purpose, notice the flavor, scent and texture of the foods you’re consuming.
After eating, pay attention to how you feel and notice how different foods affect your moods and health. You may be surprised by what you discover about your favorite foods.
5. Check-In Frequently
Sometimes your life can be so hectic that it can be hard to find time to spend with yourself. But there’s no excuse! No matter what your schedule is like, now is the time make time to check-in with yourself. Take a pause. These pauses don’t have to be long, just a few minutes to breathe deeply and evaluate how you feel and what you are thinking. You will find these mindful pauses will do wonders for stress relief.
Overall, leading a more mindful life isn’t that difficult. Simply start by trying one or a few of the items on this list, and you’ll be feeling more mindful in no time at all because after all, it’s all about Making Time.
What will you do in order to start becoming more mindful? Let me know in the comments section.
Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a facilitator, stress management coach and author of “Yes I’m Grateful,” a gratitude journal. She believes in empowering her clients to help them manage their stress and increase self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or LinkedIn