While scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook the other day, a friend posted about how he tends to fixate on what he has to do next and has trouble sitting still.
I think this is a common feeling for many people.
It's a hectic world we live in. You make breakfast with one eye on the kids and one on the morning news. On your way to work, you listen to a new podcast while simultaneously planning out your day.
In the rush to get your day started, it’s easy to lose touch with the present moment, missing out on what you're doing and experiencing.
For example, did you notice how relaxed you felt when you woke up this morning? Or did you notice the texture of the toast you ate for breakfast?
The importance of the present moment
It can be a challenge to shift our mindsets from thinking about the future or events from the past to the present moment. But with some practice, you can learn how to slow down and focus on the present moment.
Living in the present is a key theme in mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness gets thrown around a lot these days. But there is still some confusion and debate about what it really is.
Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “the awareness that arises through paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
Mindfulness involves keeping your attention in the present moment. It also can mean paying attention to what you are doing, thinking, your movements, physical sensations and emotions.
According to an article on Mindful, “Mindfulness is a quality that every human being already possesses, it’s not something you have to conjure up, you just have to learn how to access it.”
The importance of discipline
In theory, this may sound so simple. But in reality, it takes a lot of discipline to incorporate mindfulness into your routine.
With our busy lifestyles and hectic schedules, taking the time to meditate every day takes discipline. It's easy to go from healthy practices like mindfulness back into old habits.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
In recent decades, researchers have found mindfulness practices to help reduce anxiety, depression, rumination and emotional reactivity. It also has physical health benefits such as improved sleep, improved immune function and lowered blood pressure.
With all these benefits, you feel more motivated to start, but feel unsure. You may wonder if you can do it correctly or worry about adding one more thing to that long “to do list” that keeps getting longer.
The beauty of mindfulness is you can incorporate it into the activities you are already doing each day.
You don’t have to add a bunch of new things to your already packed schedule. And you don’t need any special equipment.
Top 5 way to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine
Here are top 5 ways you can incorporate mindfulness into everyday routines:
1. Start in the morning before you even get out of bed
Upon waking, take a few moments to connect with your breath. Follow the air as it moves in through your nostrils and out on the exhale.
Feel your belly rise with the inhale, fall with the exhale. Take a moment to scan your body, starting at your head and moving through each area of your body, down all the way through your toes.
Notice any areas of tension or soreness; and notice which areas feel most calm. You aren’t changing anything; you are noticing.
2. Savor your morning coffee or tea
As you enjoy your morning beverage, take a seat and hold the cup in your hand. Notice the warmth or coolness of it. Smell the aroma, take a sip and savor it. Swallow and notice how it feels to take the time to be present with this.
If you have a busy household, you might need to get up a few minutes earlier than everyone else so you can take this time for yourself.
3. Connect with nature
Take five minutes during the day to go outside, preferably where you can connect with nature. This could be during a break at work or before you start your day.
Walk and take a sensory tour of nature. Notice the color and shapes of the trees and grass. Look at the blue sky, follow the clouds with your eyes. Pay attention to the different colors, smells in the air and sounds. Touch a leaf, grass or the bark of a tree and notice how it feels in your hand.
4. Try mindfulness while during a chore
Pick a chore to practice mindfulness with. As you do the chore, make the intention of staying present with it.
If you are doing dishes, notice the warmth of the water, the scent of dish soap and feel the water running on your hands. Gently make circles with your dish rag as you are washing and notice how it feels.
Notice any thoughts that come up and compassionately let them go, refocusing on the task at hand.
5. Try the 5 4 3 2 1 mindfulness method
If you are feeling stressed during the day, try using the 5 4 3 2 1 mindfulness method. Here’s how:
Name five objects you can see or five different colors in the space you are in
Listen for four different sounds inside the space where you are or outside
Touch and pick up three different objects near you. Notice how they feel in your hand. Are they heavy or light? Rough or smooth? Warm or cool?
Inhale and notice two things you can smell. If you don’t smell anything, imagine smelling two things that smell good to you.
It can help to shift your mindset and realize that mindfulness practices can be integrated into your daily routines if you make it an intention for yourself.
If you have resisted even getting started, try using one tip above each day for a week and notice how you feel after. If the one practice isn’t working for you, try a different one.
Sometimes it can take some time to refine what works best for your individual needs. Starting small can help you stick with it instead of taking on too many practices at once. The more consistently you practice, the easier it gets.
Find a mindfulness therapist near you
The Monarch Directory from SimplePractice can help you find a therapist near you who specializes in mindfulness- based stress reduction (MBSR) and/or mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT). The best way to get the most out of our mindfulness practice is to, well, practice.
Need to find a therapist near you? Check out the SimplePractice Monarch Directory to find licensed mental health therapists with availability and online booking.