12 Ways To Practice Mindfulness Daily
So you've heard a lot about mindfulness, right? But are you wondering what it is and if it's for you. As you step into this new way of being, you're doing all the things and it's feeling way too real right now. That doesn't diminish that fact that you need space for a little self care. I've got you, start here.
What exactly is mindfulness? It is the practice of deliberately bringing your attention to the present moment. We live our lives on autopilot, always looking behind or ahead, forgetting that the magic in life happens right here, right now. Be present you say? With kids you say? Between busy schedules and multitasking, it can be almost impossible to find any time at all to slow down.
The benefits of mindfulness are hard to deny - it’s been shown to increase attention, optimism, and an overall sense of well being, while decreasing anxiety and depression. It has the power to change the structure and function of your brain. And you don’t need hours of it to benefit. You can introduce short “mindful moments” into each part of your day. The best part, you can be mindful at any time, any where!
I encourage you to choose just ONE to start TODAY that speaks to you. Maybe it's an area you feel is really missing from your life. Maybe it's an activity you really loved before kids. I always suggest aiming to add in a new one each week. By the end of the season, you will have taken an hour just for you without even realizing it.
Here Are 12 Powerful Ways You Can Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Daily Life even with littles at home…
#1 Start Your Day With An Intention Or Affirmation
Setting a daily intention and starting your day with a positive affirmation are simple tools, which I believe can be an important part of our lives and our mindset. If you want to have a great day you have to intentionally set the foundation for it. We often jump right into the day instead of mindfully walking into it. It may feel silly at first, but with time and practice, I think you will find this to be not only an enjoyable - but an essential part of your day and your way of thinking. By replacing negative thoughts with positive, hopeful, and inspirational intentions and affirmations, you can have a profound impact on the tone you set for your day, and how you feel about yourself. Starting your morning with intention means that you choose what you focus on. Every single thing your mind focuses on influences your overall well being.
#2 Bring all of your awareness to each step while you shower
Your daily shower is a perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness. Alone, quiet and away from the normal distractions of your life — even if only for a brief period — it can be a time to observe your habitual patterns of thinking. Resist the temptation to think about what you have to do during the day. All the things you have to do will still be there once you step out. Training yourself to be present in this one task of your morning will help you be present in everything you do that day.
#3 Slow down and make it a priority to fully enjoy & be present in one part of your morning routine
What is your favorite part of your morning routine? If it brings you a feeling of peace, love, contentment, joy, happiness, etc then you want to be all there for it. Do you love to journal in the morning? Read something positive? Drink your tea or coffee? Get intimate with your spouse? Take a quiet walk around the block to wake up? To me it's a small act of self care and it is these little moments of pleasure and mindfulness that set the tone for your whole day.
#4 Observe Your Breathing
it has a lot to tell you, pay attention as it shifts throughout the day
The most basic way to do mindful breathing is simply to focus your attention on your breath, the inhale and exhale. This is an easy and effective tool to calm your body and refresh the mind by practicing a few moments of conscious stillness each day. It provides you with an opportunity to check in with your body, even just for a few minutes, to see if you are holding stress and tension that needs to be released. Your breath has a lot to tell you about your current state. Pay attention as it shifts throughout the day.
We tend to breathe through our chest, however we want to bring the focus to filling our belly with air. You can do this while standing, but ideally you'll be sitting or even lying in a comfortable position. Place your hands together in a heart shape over your stomach. Begin slowing down your inhalation and exhalation. Your breath should be regular and smooth. Feel the relaxation on the inhale as you expand your lungs and stomach and fill them with air. Gently start to contract the abdomen on the exhale, pulling the belly button back and up towards the spine as you empty your lungs. Once you know how to breathe mindfully, you can use the practice to help you throughout the day.
#5 Connect With Your Senses
Tuning in to your senses is an easy way to reconnect to the present. It seems that most of us live in the past or the present, but our senses only really know what you are experiencing right now. We can't taste the past or hear the future. Whichever sense you choose to observe, it proves a doorway to the present moment, a pointer towards what is happening in this moment. Although this may seem terribly simple, the fact is that most of us have been trained to do the opposite our entire lives – to distract, soothe, entertain and medicate ourselves out of the present moment.
#6 Have Your Lunch Outside
On any given workday, most people appreciate a little break time. But not everyone knows how valuable truly taking a moment can be. If you work for a living, it's likely that you are surrounded by the “GO” mentality. This often goes hand in hand with the generation of constant availability and our dependency on digital connection. Your brain needs a time-out from work. Taking a break - even a 15 minute one - could help you stay recharged for the rest of the day. A genuine “lunch hour” , away from your desk, seems to be a thing of the past ― when we weren’t expected to perform job duties in a moment’s notice and be reachable at any time. While an hour may not be realistic, how do we use the time we have for lunch to replenish ourselves and remove distraction? There's a lot of research that shows being in nature improves your attention and offers rejuvenation. Eat your lunch away from your desk, make it a ritual, reap the benefits.
#7 Pause Between Actions
Is it just me or are we craving stillness and silence in our culture? It seems like there is noise and chaos everywhere? Do you ever long for the time when we weren't always connected? Every feel like you move from one thing to the next to the next only having a chance to finally be still and zone out at the end of the day? The truth is though that our world is not going to suddenly slow down and become silenced simply because you want it to. You have to reframe your mindset and practice taking a pause. The power of taking pause is well researched. Not only does it promote relaxation and a break from the noise, it's also refreshing and can recenter you for hours. Taking time to just be still and quiet gives your nervous system a chance to regain balance. It looks like this:
Finish your work...Turn off everything (phone on airplane mode)... Sit comfortably... Praise yourself for what you've accomplished... Breathe... Pause... Silence... Recenter... Go To The Next Task.
If you make this a practice in your daily life, do you see how it has the power to change everything?
#8 Take An After Dinner Walk OR spend some time outside
Grounding & Connecting Yourself To The Earth
In our modern society, we constantly deal with the pressure of daily life and its inevitable obligations and to-do lists. We spend so much time indoors, behind desks, in a chair, staring at computer screens, it's no wonder we feel stressed and a general lack of being grounded and centered. It’s so important that we all take time to step away, step outside, and connect back to nature. Throw on your walking shoes - or even better - go barefoot and joyfully immerse yourself in nature. As you walk, observe the beauty around you – the wind in the trees, the diversity of plants, the crunch of leaves, and the different sounds of the birds singing. I have found this is a wonderful way for kids to burn off a little extra energy, spouses to reconnect after a long day, and families to feel more grounded together.
#9 Give 10 Second Hugs - engage with your children and your spouse
How many hugs to you get in a day? Have you ever been hugged and felt like a weight had been lifted afterwards? All human interaction and emotion can be broken down into a simple chain of chemical reactions in the brain. The four chemicals are: endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin.
So what happens when you embrace another human being with a ten-second hug?
Experts say it has surprising health benefits. If you hold a hug for as little as ten- seconds, it triggers the release of oxytocin, giving us that sense of bonding, promoting a better mood, and feelings of security. By incorporating this into your daily life, you will engage with your children, spouse, family, and friends on a deeper, more intimate level - creating a lasting impact on those around you.
#10 Breathe and Listen
How often do we take the time to really listen?
Communication is the foundation of every relationship. There is a distinct difference between hearing and listening. Listening requires 100% focus on the person who is talking. It’s being with them fully invested in what they are saying and taking in their words and emotions through all of your senses. Listening is hearing with every part of you. For some people, listening is natural and effortless - for others, it’s a practice that will need to be worked on and improved. When it comes to our children, studies show that our mindful listening helps them learn to handle upsets more effectively and respond more compassionately with others. Over the long run, parent’s mindful listening contributes to a child’s ability to regulate their own negative emotions and be more successful in school and on the job.
#11 Start with 5 minutes of meditation every day
The popularity of meditation is increasing as more people discover its benefits - and science backs them up. Meditation is a habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. You can use it to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Many people think of it as a way to reduce stress and develop concentration. People also use the practice to develop other beneficial habits and feelings, such as a positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns and even increased pain tolerance. Incorporating meditation into your life can help reduce stress, improve decision making, enhance creativity, and increase emotional resilience. Exercising the brain in a way that strengthens your thought processes can provide the support and groundwork you need to control how you react to situations throughout the day. We can all prioritize five minutes, right? If this practice is new to you try out an app like HeadSpace, find a guided one on Youtube, or listen to a zen playlist on Spotify to help set the tone.
#12 End Your Day With A Gratitude Journal
Gratitude is more than action or fleeting feeling - it's a way of life. It improves our health, relationships, emotions, personality, and career. Grateful thoughts can even help you get a good night's sleep. It increases sleep quality, reduces the time required to fall asleep, and increases sleep duration. Studies show that gratitude also helps you feel more optimistic while reducing stress and anxiety. Taking a few minutes to write down what you're grateful for before going to bed focuses your brain on positive thoughts and quiets the inner noise and chaos. This doesn't mean you need to write a whole letter or fill a page, just jot down a few things before bed that you you are grateful for from that day.
It is the practice of cultivating presence in the little moments that ultimately leads to a mindful life.
Mamas, how you do incorporate mindful moments into your day?
Be Well and Live Intently,
WE LOVE GROWTH
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