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What is Mindfulness & Easy Ways to Start Implementing Mindful Exercises

Take a deep breath in…

 

Now breathe out…

 

Do that three times. How do you feel?

 

With 24/7 access to tech, work, and people, the world can feel a little claustrophobic. Wanting to chuck your phone or scream into a pillow at least once a day is more common than you'd think. I mean, we're only human after all. Taking a moment to focus on your breathing can significantly influence your day. This is one of the many aspects of practicing mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness is a form of meditation, but don't worry if you aren't comfortable sitting cross-legged on the floor "oming" to yourself. Mindfulness meditation is more about being intensely aware of the moment, about calming yourself and eliminating stress. In this article, we will focus on several techniques you can use to practice mindfulness every day.

Eat Mindfully

Eating mindfully is about the experience of the meal.1 Be an active participant in the action and emotion of eating. Chew slowly, eat in silence, and eliminate unnecessary distractions, like TV and your phone. Appreciate the food you are putting in your mouth and have gratitude towards it! Incorporate healthy food options that support gut health and heighten your relationship with them. When eating mindfully, you are getting into a practice of not overindulging and gaining a healthy relationship with your meals.

Practice Breathing Mindfully

Mindful breathing is a way to help alleviate stress and build resilience to it.2 Many people aren't familiar with the difference between breathing for survival (which comes naturally) and mindful breathing, which takes some thought.

The best way to learn mindful breathing is to lay down on the floor or a bed. Place your hand on your stomach, and clear your mind. Inhale deeply for a count of three, feeling your hand rise with the inhale. Hold your breath for a count of two, then slowly exhale on a four-count. Easy as that! Check out more about our favorite breathing exercises and how to get started. 

Get in Touch With Your Senses

With the world-focus turning to digital connection and working from home, people mainly rely on sight and sound. Part of mindfulness is becoming more in tune with your senses, and this is something you can do with deliberate practice. For example, when you put on cologne or perfume, take a whiff and attempt to analyze the smell. Do the same with your other senses.

Meditation is Key

Meditation is critical to mindfulness because it helps in emotional regulation.3 It provides the practice needed to rationalize emotional responses, making you feel centered, and less overwhelmed during times of stress. The objective of meditation is to become an observer of your life as well as a participant. 

Observe Your Thoughts & Emotions

Being an observer of your thoughts and emotions means reflecting on past experiences rationally, taking yourself outside of the situation, and asking why. Why did you react the way you did? Why did that conversation with Jane make you feel upset? By stripping back the emotions and taking an objective look at situations, you can begin to understand your stressors and motivators, leading to a happier and healthier existence.

Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness is hugely beneficial. However, some of the most prominent benefits include:4

  • Improved health
  • Reduced stress
  • Decreased depressive symptoms
  • Enhanced coping with psychological and physiological illness

Learning how to be mindful is a journey, and it will not happen overnight. Try implementing just one of the strategies above and regularly practicing for at least two to three weeks before adding something else. Enjoy the journey.

 

RESOURCES:

1 https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/8-steps-to-mindful-eating

2 https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/mindful_breathing

3 https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner#:~:text=Researchers%20theorize%20that%20mindfulness%20meditation,to%20effective%20emotion%2Dregulation%20strategies.

4 https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-mindfulness/

Created by Nawiconfrom the Noun Project