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How to be more mindful

Mindfulness can sometimes be mistaken as a practice that requires a lot of time and effort. It is often confused with practices such as meditation, which can require a calm, quiet environment and focus. But mindfulness is more about a way of being than of doing. Mindfulness is, to put it simply, the act of being present in the now. When our mind is present with our body we can create happiness in the moments that our happening inside us all around us. Instead of focusing on past events or worrying about the future, by learning how to be mindful, we are experiencing the joy and happiness of the present moment.

how to be mindful“You can learn how to create a moment of joy, a feeling of happiness, at any time of the day.” (Thich Nhat Hanh, 2010)

Mindfulness can slot into your everyday life with little effort. Living mindfully should not take all your energy or be a chore. Instead, it should energise you as you take a pause from your internal dialogue which often consists of worry or anxieties most of which impacts us negatively. Each time we allow ourselves to step away from the noise in our minds we give ourselves the best possible chance to make the best possible decision.

Some benefits of being more mindful include reduced stress levels, improvement in symptoms of depression and anxiety and an increase in our sense of wellbeing. With regular practice you may notice an increase in gratitude, a sense of being happier and more fulfilled, improved physical health and an improvement in chronic pain. With that in mind, here is how to be mindful in your everyday life.

How to be mindful

Start when it’s easy

Often people think of using mindfulness when they are stressed or overwhelmed. However, it can be easier to start practicing mindfulness when times are less stressful, adding it to your daily routine in times of ease. Then, when life challenges come your way you will be better able to work through them.

how to be mindfulExplore different types of mindfulness

Find what works for you and what you enjoy. If you can find a ways of incorporating mindfulness into your day that you look forward to, so that it won’t become a chore. Mindfulness has a wonderful flexibility that allows you to incorporate it into your day with ease. You might try walking, standing or sitting. Maybe you can change your location from inside to outside or spend some time in the woods or at the beach. Find the way you get the most benefit from.

Pause throughout the day

As you move throughout your day take a couple of minutes to pause in between tasks. This could be when you are eating or driving, or you might like to set aside some time in your day to meditate or practice breathing exercises.

Engage in activities mindfully

how to be mindfulThe next time you stop to eat, wash your hair or mow the grass. Think about doing it mindfully. Bring your focus onto the task at hand. Becoming aware of smells, tastes and sensations. Allow yourself to let go of any future worries and immerse yourself in the present moment. This can be practiced with any activity that you choose to engage in.

Focus on one task at a time

Studies have found that we make more mistakes when we are multi-tasking. Slow down, approach one task at a time and take a pause before starting a new task.

Try breathing exercises

By focusing on your breath, you become more aware of the present moment. Breathing techniques can have a calming affect and offer a sense of being grounded. This can allow the intensity of overwhelm to decrease.

Progressive muscle relaxation

This technique can be practiced at any time of day. Simply, work on tensing and relaxing your muscles, one muscle group at a time. With practice, you’ll learn to recognize when you’re tensing up certain parts of your body.

It is natural for our thoughts to wander and worries and anxieties to creep in. The objective of mindfulness is not to stop our thoughts from happening but to notice them and let them go. You can choose which thoughts you want to engage with. So, if you find yourself becoming overwhelmed with worries, remember these tips on how to be mindful and take a moment to pause, acknowledge, and let them drift by, returning your focus to the present moment.

Written by: Niamh Byrne, Psychotherapist, MIACP

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