Mindfulness and its benefits are becoming more well known, widespread and respected. As someone who works every hour of the day, finds it hard to switch off and often feels overwhelmed by stress; it has made a huge difference to my life.
What mindfulness is exactly is open to discussion and can be interpreted differently. To me, mindfulness is being present in the moment, being aware of my thoughts and feelings in a none-judgmental way, and also being grateful for here and now. This makes me more aware of what is happening around me and forces me to consciously reflect, which has resulted in the development of a more level-headed and tolerant nature and reduced stress levels.
So how do you become more mindful? There are a million and one books on the matter (check them out in my recommended reads blog post). For some, the preferred method is long meditation sessions and yoga… I am not one of those people. I have very little spare time, so I use more accessible ways that fit into my busy schedule. These are the top 3 methods that work for me:
Meditation can fit into any lifestyle, I promise. I personally do 5-10 minutes of self-guided meditation a day. I sit on my bed, put on some calming music, and set an alarm for 10 minutes later. During this time I try to keep my focus on only my breath and switch off from all the thoughts whizzing around my head. This is a huge challenge as my mind often wanders off… and when this happens, I just bring it back to my breath. This can be frustrating at first as your mind refuses to focus, but stick with it and I assure you it gets easier with time. If you’re really struggling, then try using guided meditations on apps such as Headspace.
An amazing way to be more mindful is to reflect at the end of every day. This literally takes a minute, so no excuses! I personally like to reflect on three positive things from the day and one way I could improve. For the positive elements, I like to think of big moments such as a new business opportunity, as well as small ones such as a nice interaction with a stranger. In terms of the improvements, I like to base these on my personal behaviour. For example, I may reflect on the fact that I felt angry or frustrated about something that I have no control over. An improvement would be to realise that there is no need to waste my energy on something which I cannot change. These reflections can be shared with a close friend or partner, or even just with yourself in a written journal.
Nowadays, we spend a huge chunk of our lives looking at screens – whether that’s phones, laptops, TV’s or tablets. We are spending less and less time interacting with people face to face and more and more time doing so virtually. Even when we are with people, we cant take our eyes off our phones as we are bombarded with notifications and updates, and as a result our connections with people are suffering.
If I am with anyone, whether its a friend, family member, colleague or partner; I will try to present in the social situation. I do this by disconnecting from my technology and giving them my undivided attention. I turn my phone on airplane mode or turn it off completely, and devote my time and attention to the person I am with. This is a true sign of respect for them and what they have to say.
I also try to disconnect from my phone in other situations. I try to enjoy a moment for what it is, rather than capturing it on film or in a picture. Sometimes its nice to just sit and watch a sunset rather than get a photo of it for instagram, enjoy a joke with friends without tweeting about it or listen to a concert without filming it on your phone.