5 ways to practice mindfulness in everyday life
13 May 2021 a 12:31PM
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It’s all too easy to cram every minute of your day with “stuff” – whether it’s work, family, hobbies, life admin, or browsing social media. But do you ever really take any time out from the constant distractions of life – time that enables you to quieten your mind, relax, and hit the ‘reset’ button?
Grappling with the challenges of the ‘always on’ culture isn’t easy, but throw in the demands of life commitments and responsibilities, and it can be a recipe for stress, and even burnout.
Rushing out of the door without even thinking about how you’d like your day to go is, of course, normal. Getting frustrated when you’re stuck in traffic, reacting in a negative way to a tersely written email, or blaming the weather for your inappropriate choice of footwear – also all normal. But there is a better way.
Mindfulness isn’t a new concept for most of us. In recent years it has become a more prominent feature of daily life, with smartphone apps, gym classes, and even workplace initiatives leveraging the benefits mindfulness can bring.
A daily practice of mindfulness is a very individual thing, and how (or indeed, if) you choose to incorporate it into your life, ultimately comes down to personal preference.
To kickstart Mindfulness Month on the Virtual Club platform, we’re giving you 5 ways you can practice mindfulness in everyday life.
- Wake up with purpose
A widely-recognised habit for mental health is setting your intentions for the day, and a good approach for this is to do it as soon as you wake up. Given that the unconscious brain is responsible for most of our behaviours and decision-making, this practice can help align your conscious thinking with a more primal-based motivation.
On waking (without checking your phone first), take five deep inhales and exhales with your eyes closed. Then, set your intentions for the day – this can be anything that is personal to you, such as: “Today, I will try and be positive about everything I encounter, even the challenging moments. I will be kind to others, I will make time to exercise, I will spend time with my family and be present with them, rather than distracted.”
- Practice gratitude
It is said that during moments of gratitude it is impossible to be negative. Imagine that!? Being able to switch off any negativity that comes into your mind simply through the experience of gratitude? Powerful stuff. When you choose to do this depends on your personal preference – some prefer to wake up and either think up or write down three things they are grateful for, others prefer to do it before bedtime. Making this a daily practice can have a really positive effect on your wellbeing, and over time, starts to reduce that negative bias that is so in-built into us, and instead reinforces a positive, compassionate mindset.
- Mindful workout
For the more restless souls among you, there are a number of activities you can take part in which actually facilitate mindfulness. Yoga is a centuries-old activity which rebalances both mind and body, allowing your breath to tune-in to your body, promote energy flow, and create mental clarity. Pilates uses a different physical approach but a similar concept, or you might want to go for a walk in the countryside as a way of clearing your mind and being ‘in the moment’. We’re going to be running some yoga challenges for you to try on the Virtual Club, or simply find a yoga or pilates routine on YouTube that fits your needs. Whatever you choose, using an activity to ‘switch off’ and be more present can work wonders for the mind and body.
- Meditate – your way
If you’re completely new to meditation, we’ll be providing some tips and insights on how to get started throughout the course of the month – but it’s something anyone can do, and virtually anywhere as well. Meditation practice comes with many different approaches – it’s about finding one that works for you. Building meditation as a routine habit can take a bit of persistence in terms of making time to do it, but the benefits of this daily practice are well-documented. You can start by simply sitting in a relaxed upright position and inhaling to the count of five, followed by an exhale to the count of five. Breath work is central to meditation practice and works to temper your nervous system into a calmer state. Others may want to try a walking meditation, or use a mantra to reduce thoughts and distractions in your mind. Find something that resonates with you and try to stick to it.
- Conscious eating
Mindful eating may sound a bit ‘out there’ but it’s one of the simpler ways of practicing mindfulness. After all, we all eat throughout the day so it’s certainly an easier way to form a habit. But too often we eat while distracted by the TV, or our phones, computers, or having a conversation. Mindful eating is about eliminating distractions and being conscious of every mouthful, taking stock of how your body feels physically, emotionally, noticing any thoughts that arise as you eat. Try to slow down, fully experience the process, and listen to your body intuitively by eating according to hunger. It’s a pure awareness exercise and allows you to be fully in the moment – even if you just try this for a few minutes a day, you will benefit from a far richer experience.