4 Weeks to a New You: Week Two
Ways to Realistically Practise Mindfulness
Ever feel like the days, weeks and months are running away with you? While we can’t tell you where the time went, we can tell you how to really ‘live in the moment’, and that’s by practising mindfulness. Hear us out.
While people have been praising the benefits of mindfulness for years now, there’s a huge misconception surrounding the movement – especially how it’s shown from the angle of social media.
Some people adore living a mindful lifestyle; however, some perceive it as kitschy, twee or ‘airy-fairy’. Even if you’ve never heard of mindfulness before, there are ways you can realistically practice mindfulness in your everyday life that brings a sense of inner peace, allowing you to truly live in the moment. Let’s dive in.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique that honours the moment, whatever it may be. It guides the mind to being aware of the present while calmly acknowledging and accepting your thoughts, feelings and senses to ground you.
Have you ever had a moment that you want to really remember, so you try and capture a mental image? Essentially, that’s what mindfulness is, whether your experience is negative or positive – and by applying mindfulness to any aspect of your daily life, you can live in the present and feel totally calm.
In this article, we’ll show you 6 ways to realistically practise mindfulness in day-to-day life.
1. Develop a simple morning routine
We often hear that the most successful people make their beds in the morning. Aside from the fact a made bed stops your mind from wanting to climb back into it, it’s also a part of a morning routine.
A lot of us are very busy in the mornings – and not all of us are morning people (us included), but a morning routine really allows us time to channel our thoughts while we shower, shave, prepare our packed lunches or have our morning cuppa.
When starting a morning routine, keep it simple and add to it over time to successfully turn it into a habit. We recommend a three-step routine of making your bed, doing your skin care or a shower and having your morning cup of tea, coffee or water.
While you do this, think of what you feel in the moment. The smell of your skincare products, the feel of warm water on your head, the feeling of cleanliness of brushing away a night of sleep off your teeth and the taste of that first sip of liquid.
Once those things are firmly in your stride, consider adding extra steps to your morning routine, slowly but surely. Some of you may want to do 10 – 15 minutes of yoga or Pilates, (check our week 1 article to learn the difference!) maybe try meditation or breathing exercises, writing gratitude (three things you’re grateful for) or even starting your to-do list for the day. All of these things can make you aware of how a structured morning helps you to not only live in the moment, but for the moment.
2. Spend one hour in the evening with no phone or technology
This doesn’t have to be every evening, but one hour without tech can really bring you back to life. For generations now, we’ve been staring at screens for entertainment, and a lot of the time we forget to be present. Instead, do something productive or entertaining that isn’t scrolling Facebook or watching a re-run on the tele.
Instead, take up a hobby you love to do, go for a walk, jog or bike ride, or practise some self-care by having a bubble bath, a facemask or even painting your nails. Each of these activities doesn’t really require a lot of concentration, so instead direct your thoughts to relaxing and being grateful for the moment instead of being a slave to technology.
Even simple cooking can be a mindful exercise, so focus on the tastes, the smells, the textures of the ingredients. Have a little sing or dance to yourself (we know you do that anyway!) and be silly. Mindfulness isn’t a serious practise – it's there to make you aware of yourself, so have fun with it!
3. Make gratitude a habit that you do every day
If you don’t know what the practise of gratitude is, it’s about focussing on what’s good in your life and being thankful for what you have. You can do this by thinking about it, saying it out loud or even writing gratitude down to refer back to.
We’ve all had those days where nothing seems to go right. So whether you’re feeling stressed, burned out, sad or unappreciated, practising gratitude is a great way to bring your mind to a positive train of thought.
The trick is with gratitude, try to be as specific as possible. Every day, write down three things your grateful for to bring your mind into the positive. Below, we’ll give you a few examples of how gratitude should be practised.
- I’m grateful that my colleague brought me soup to work when I was sick.
- I’m grateful that my daughter spent an evening in with me this week.
- I’m grateful for Steve’s uplifting personality at the corner shop when I grab the newspaper. He always makes my mornings brighter.
- I’m grateful that my partner made a detour to pick me up from work when it was raining outside.
They don’t have to be anything amazing, good things big and small happen every second of the day. Taking the time to honour and realise it ensure you make the most of these small everyday things.
4. Practise realistic gratitude in day-to-day life
If the gratitude is a little hard to get your teeth into, use it in your day to day conversations quite easily. Here are a few ways you can do this.
- Write ‘thank you’ cards after birthdays, events or Christmas to attendees or people who gave you gifts.
- Start a gratitude journal and write down three things you’re grateful for when you need a boost of positivity.
- Share your gratitude with others; “I’m really grateful you took the time to help me today”
- Pay attention to how you express “thank you”. You’ll be surprised how much of a boost it can give to others when you truly mean it. Make sure there’s eye contact, and make sure you really mean it. (Plus, they’ll definitely be more likely to help in the future)
5. Practise mindfulness at work
Mindfulness can also be practised at work. This is a great way to get you out of that post-lunch slump and reset your mind when those days feel like they’re dragging on for an eternity. Here are a few ways to practise mindfulness at work.
Once or twice a week, take a couple of minutes to clear your workspace. A messy workspace makes for a messy day and an inability to focus, having a knock-on affect to the next day, week and your sense of calm. Remove everything you can from your workspace and wipe it down before replacing your equipment. Throw or put away everything that you don’t need and sit back down with a refreshed desk and refreshed sense of drive.
We all love a coffee, however some of us are guilty of having that 4th coffee which inevitably leads to an afternoon caffeine crash. Instead, why not make a cup of tea or bring some nice herbal teas from home to try and share with your colleagues? A lovely herbal tea goes a long way.
If you feel the inevitable Thursday slump come along, look up some ‘deskercise’ routines or have a stretch away from your desk. We’re not built to sit down and stare at screens all day, so make sure to look after your body and refresh your posture. Do this while waiting for the kettle to boil, while your lunch heats up or even when you nip to the loo!
6. Practise mindful eating
If you can’t see yourself doing any of these – then try this. We all need to eat, right? Mindful eating is a wonderful experience that not only has mental health benefits, but also helps your body by connecting your mind to your stomach, preventing bloating, heartburn and unnecessary weight gain.
Better still, mindful eating encourages you to try new things, but if they’re not right for you – don't eat them! It’s important to still eat a balanced diet, but don’t eat the things you don’t enjoy. Soon, you’ll find you’re really connecting to your food and being present in the moment.
Our top tip for mindful eating is having an area (e.g, the dining room table) to eat without distractions, such as your phone or TV that may take us away from connecting our mind to our body. It’s also a great way to catch up on your day with others in the household and find out what their preferences of food are.
If you’re struggling to adapt to a mindfulness technique, mindful eating is the easiest thing to start with. Try it little by little and see the health benefits for yourself!
Connect yourself to the present moment so time doesn’t run away with you by realistically practising mindfulness.
Join us for the rest of our 4-Weeks to a New You where we explore the ways we can create a better lifestyle one-step-at-a-time and create those habits for better living. Don’t forget to check our week 1 article on Yoga vs. Pilates where we highlight the differences to find what’s right for you.
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