I don’t know about you, but my anxiety is forever compelling me to do more. I feel like I’m not doing it properly unless I’m doing All the Things.
In that mode, I don’t focus on what I’m doing now because I’m 10 steps ahead mentally. This leads to multitasking to fit everything in.
Cue overwhelm, burnout, and frustration when it all inevitably collapses in a heap. Does this sound familiar?
Mindfulness is the antithesis to that anxiety because it doesn’t involve multitasking, worrying about the future, or overthinking the past.
Mindfulness involves fully tuning in to the present. Contrary to what you may think, mindfulness doesn’t necessarily equate to hours on your meditation pillow thinking about nothing.
In fact, you can enjoy the benefits of mindfulness during your everyday activities. This post shows you how to stay present and mindful without having to step on your meditation mat (unless you want to).
The Benefits of Mindfulness
You may have landed here in the first place because you’ve heard that mindfulness is beneficial for body, mind and spirit. But how exactly?
Mindfulness has myriad benefits – and this is not just me shouting at you from my woo-woo tree. The benefits are backed up by scientific research and they include:
Better tolerance to pain
Better sex and greater arousal
Improved decision making
Improved short term memory recall
Greater compassion and empathy for others
Longer attention span
Greater ability to focus and concentrate
Better resilience to setbacks
Reduced stress and anxiety
Better management of depression
Reduced risk of overweight or obesity
Reduced symptoms of IBS
Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
In terms of mindset and mental wellness, mindfulness helps by:
Focusing your mind
Helping you to accept the present As It Is
Allowing greater appreciation and gratitude
Cultivating a safe space within which to truly feel and embrace your emotions without judgement, avoidance or attachment
Cultivating an environment of ease and flow
Allowing you to direct your intention into each moment, which in turn directs the course of your day, your week, and so on. In other words, over time, staying mindful in the present moment curates a life lived on purpose.
SO, WHAT IS MINDFULNESS, ANYWAY?
Dictionary.com defines “mindfulness” as:
mindfulness, noun: “a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”.
When you focus solely on one thing at a time in the present you are more aware of the sensations in your bodies, our thoughts, and emotions.
You may observe heightened sensual pleasure (think of being able to use all five senses when eating a Krispy Kreme), or an ability to process difficult emotions better. You may also notice greater productivity overall by only focusing on one thing at a time.
15 WAYS TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS DAILY
WORKOUT | Mindful movement is a game changer! Instead of working out in zombie mode, rushing through your reps and sets, and zoning out, truly research the correct form for each exercise you do.
As you perform each exercise, go slow. Run through a bodily checklist for your form.
Learn which muscle the exercise works and where that is in your body. As you do the exercise, focus on the contraction and release of those muscle groups.
Coordinate your breath with the movement, inhaling on the less difficult portion (for example, the downward motion of a barbell squat), and exhaling on the difficult portion (for example, the upward motion of a barbell squat).
Yes, your workouts will move slower. And yes, you will probably have to cut back from 500 different exercises to 5.
But you will notice a massive shift in your results, your energy levels, and your form. It’s all about quality over quantity when it comes to workouts. The more you can engage that mind-muscle connection, the more effective your workouts will be!
WAKE UP | You know that beautiful moment in the morning where you first become conscious? Take a second to check in.
How is your body feeling? Does it feel energized, or like it could use a little extra compassion today?
Does it feel light and springy, or heavy and sluggish? Are there any stiff/sore spots?
What was the first thought that popped into your head? Was it a happy thought, or a not-so-happy thought? With a quick morning check in, you'll have greater self awareness of mind and body throughout the day.
FEEL | When you get a strong emotion during the day, feel into it rather than squashing it down. Give your emotions the time and space they deserve and need to flow through you in a healthy way.
Journal about it if you want to. Scream into a pillow if needed.
Listen to music that fits your mood, whether you’re joyful or infuriated. Ask yourself what about the situation made you feel this way, and how it triggered this emotion.
This develops emotional awareness and better emotional self regulation, as well as uncovering any blocks or triggers you may be carrying in your subconscious.
PUT. THE PHONE. DOWN | I feel like I don’t have many pet peeves but this one tops my list, so please do excuse me for climbing onto my soap box for just a moment to rant. My biggest pet peeve is when you’re having a conversation with someone and they completely disengage to check a message on their phone, scroll social media, or answer an email. They may as well walk away from you mid-sentence without even excusing themselves.
As an introvert I like to go deep in conversations. There’s nothing more jarring than opening up about your personal life only to be interrupted by the other person asking you to hold that thought while they just check this text. Let me tell you, it is extremely invalidating!
And if you are that person who disengages to check your phone – by flitting between your phone, social media, and the people you’re standing in front of, you’re not getting that deep 1:1 connection you would get if you were just focused on that other person.
Phone-free conversations allow for more engagement, a deeper feeling of connection, and research-backed greater enjoyment and happiness. The other person will tremendously appreciate it and feel valued and listened to!
When you put the phone down and truly engage with someone, you are saying, “Our conversation is important to me.” When you disengage from them (or worse, interrupt them as they are talking) to check a text or update, you are subconsciously saying to the other person, “You are not a priority.”
We’re all guilty of this from time to time, and in this busy world, I get it: sometimes we definitely feel the pressure to be available and accessible 24/7. But remember: quality over quantity.
Give 100% of your time and attention to the person who is here, now in front of you. Put the phone away when you are having quality time with someone, or better yet, flick it into airplane mode.
Wait until your friend excuses herself to check it if you feel you have to. If there’s some pressing reason you may be interrupted during your catch up, let your friend know ahead of time.
The same goes for date night, family/couple meal times, or quality time with family members. Whoever’s beeping you can wait.
Thirty years ago, before this technology existed, they would have had to wait their turn, so they can wait now. You deserve the greater happiness, connectivity, and relaxation that face to face contact provides.
HOUSEWORK | Because housework requires little brain power, it is the perfect opportunity to be fully present and lose yourself in the moment. For example, if you’re washing dishes, you might focus on the smell of the dish soap, the warm slipperiness of the sudsy water on your skin, or the prisms of colour in the soap bubbles. It kind of makes it enjoyable!
WALK | Walking is easy to put on autopilot – but it’s amazing what a beautiful, even spiritual experience it can be when you bring mindfulness to it. Focus on the way the ground feels beneath your feet.
Listen to the sounds of children playing in the park, or dogs barking. Notice how bright the sky is, how warm the sun feels, or how soft and cool the breeze is. This is why my walk is my favourite part of my day.
SHOWER | Shower by candlelight. Notice the temperature of the water on your skin and the pressure of the water.
Is it too hot? Too cold? Too light? Too soft?
Notice how satiny your hair feels as the water runs through it. Run your hands over your skin and notice how smooth it feels.
When you get out of the shower, don’t just quickly rub in your body lotion. Massage it gently into your legs, and arms, paying attention to forgotten areas and observing how relaxing it feels, how the lotion smells, and how good your skin looks and feels with the added moisture. It’s utterly delicious.
EAT | When you’re indulging in an occasional sweet treat (it’s donuts for me), rather than doing so while you’re on the go, give 100% of your focus to it. Observe how pretty it looks.
Bite into it slowly, noticing its texture. Let the taste unfurl and develop in your mouth as you roll and chew it.
I like to do this with a good overripe piece of fruit too – it’s a sensory feast. As much as zoning out in front of the TV with movie snacks is one of my favourite pastimes, it is good to regularly enjoy a meal that is the sole attention of your focus. You will eat less and enjoy it more.
LISTEN | It’s a busy world. Time is short and social time is limited, I get it. Everybody on planet Earth is guilty, at least at one point or another, of listening so we can talk more.
Instead, really engage with the other person. Listen to understand, not to speak.
Pay attention to the sound of their voice, their body language, their eye contact and most importantly what they are communicating. It supercharges your relationships, and leads to greater social and personal satisfaction.
YOGA | Yoga is like a moving meditation. It helps you stay connected with the present moment by simultaneously linking breath with movement. Enough said.
If you’re a beginner, or are looking for the next level, I highly recommend checking out Yoga With Adriene. She has a yoga video for any occasion you can think of and I love her focus and attention to the present moment in everything she does.
READ | When I’m reading, the material world slips away and I am fully immersed in the world contained in the pages. I am fully absorbed in the moment – Harry Potter’s moment, more so than mine – but “the moment” nonetheless.
SINGLE TASK | My name is Rhiannon Day, and I am a recovering multi-tasker. I used to feel efficient by doing multiple things done at once but this was a false economy.
I would never do any of those things particularly well, which meant that I left out key steps or I made a lot of mistakes that I had to go back and redo, costing me more time in the long run to go back and fix it all. When you pay attention to a single task at a time, your pure focus on it and mindful attention to it allows you to complete the job correctly the first time, and often faster.
In fact, neuroscience backs this. No matter how much we like to think we can do more than one thing at a time, the brain can’t do multiple things simultaneously.
All it can do is jump rapidly from one task to another. This means that it actually costs time, is less efficient, and also drains our energetic battery faster.
BLOCK | My multitasking eventually deteriorated into what what I like to call “hummingbird syndrome” where I would “flit” between tasks depending on what mood I was in. In other words, I got into the dreadful habit of chasing shiny things all day.
It’s kind of embarrassing to admit. I would get distracted by social media, or think I’d just quickly Google something, or get up to answer unexpected phone calls, or get bored doing one task and start another.
What happened was all these little unfinished projects humming away in the background, like having 15 Google Chrome tabs open at a time. And nothing got done. If it did get done, it took a lot of time.
So, now I block my time out. I commit to doing a task, like work, for example, for a set amount of time, and in that time I do nothing else but that one thing and give my full attention and mindset to it.
I have similar blocks for daily exercise, relaxing, time with my husband, cleaning, and creativity. If I think of something else to attend to, like something to research, I quickly write it in my notebook and then get straight back to my blocked activity. I come back to the other thing in its designated block.
The stripping away of flexibility gave me some initial panic, but I was a convert when I saw an instant shift in my productivity and how much I was actually able to get done in a single day.
CREATE | When I’m scrapbooking, writing, colouring in, painting, or crocheting, I feel like I really do give it my full attention and focus. I’m completely sucked into the present moment, tending to what I’m doing with the precision it requires. It’s fantastic mindfulness training.
JOURNAL | There are so many reasons that I love journaling but one of them is how much it helps with mindfulness. I am fully focused on my internal world when I’m journaling, scribbling out what I’m feeling, what I’ve dreamed, what I’m wishing for, or intentionally blocking out the week ahead and observing my calendar.
It helps me to be more organised and prepared without the stress and judgement, and better in tune with my feelings. It’s amazing to trace through my various journals how my desires, my dreams, my rants, my female cycle, my energy levels, my metabolism, and what’s going on in calendar all seem to flow together.
I would never have been conscious of that without journaling. It brings a mindful union between my outer world and my inner world.
Related resources: Manifestation Journaling Routine
A mindfulness practice doesn’t need to overwhelm your day. It doesn’t need to be something additional to add to your “to do” list. In fact, I would argue it is better to bring an element of mindfulness and intention into the things you are already doing to enjoy its myriad benefits, including better productivity, supercharged magnetism, a healthier body, and a calmer mind.
The Mindfulness Journal - Barry Davenport & SJ Scott
The Miracle of Mindfulness - Thich Nhat Hanh
10 Minute Mindfulness - Barry Davenport & SJ Scott
The Mind Fullness Game - Innericons