5 Easy Ways to Add Some Mindfulness to Your Day

The science behind the benefits of Mindfulness skills is irrefutable. Some of the benefits include both better physical health (reduced blood pressure for one), emotional regulation and enhanced mental functioning (greater focus, clarity and confidence). Ironically, because of our busy lives, many find themselves stressing out over how to fit this stress-reducing practice into our day. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be difficult. Finding even a few minutes a day to be mindful will reap benefits. Here are a few suggestions that won't take up many of your valuable minutes.

1. One obstacle that many may face when establishing a mindfulness practice is the pressure to find a quiet room where you won't be disturbed. Whether at home or work, it can be a challenge to completely escape from family, co-workers, and all the other people and tasks that require our attention. Rest easy if this is your biggest struggle. There is a way to practice mindfulness in most situations. When you're standing in line at the grocery store, instead of flipping through the gossip magazine, focus on yourself and specifically the physical sensations in your body. Think about and sense the feeling of the cool air against your skin. Feel your feet encased in your shoes/boots and sense them planted firmly on the floor. Notice how your back feels. Is it tight, contracted, bracing and/or tired? Visualize it and invite it to soften and relax. Imagine a back massage, a heat being applied to a tight muscle or the warm shower hitting your back.

2. Practice mindfulness while you're preparing and cooking breakfast, lunch or dinner. Set the intention to use this task to practice aiming your attention on the details in the present moment, and keep bringing your attention back to the task at hand each and every time the mind wanders. Listen to the sound of the knife slicing through the veggies. Listen to the sound of the running water in the sink. Put your fingers under that running water and experience how cool it is. Notice and appreciate the difference between the heat of the stove or oven and the cool refrigerator and freezer. Tune into other details in your five senses as you participate fully in the activity.

3. Like nearly everything these days, when it comes to mindfulness, there's an app for that. Apps like Headspace are intended for beginners. The 10 free sessions, each of which is 10 minutes long, teach you the basics of meditating. If you want to continue past those 10 sessions, there is a monthly subscription. There are plenty of meditation and mindfulness apps from which to choose like Insight Timer, Calm and Ten Percent Happier. Check your app store, the reviews and you're sure to find one that will work for you.

4. Do you walk for exercise? Fitting some mindfulness into your walks is easy. If you walk outside, notice the sky, the clouds, the sun – this gives us a sense of the wider context. Tune into sounds you may not have noticed before. Hear the birds, the wind, the sound of your shoes hitting the ground, children playing. What about smells? Is there a scent of that crisp fall smell in the air?

5. If you have a moment in the course of your day when you’re feeling stressed, triggered and you may even wonder if you are going to lose it, then use it as a cue to stop and re-center yourself. It's as easy as closing your eyes and taking some deep breaths. Take it further though, and pay attention to your breath. Make your exhales twice as long as your inhales. Count them out. Taking just three to five minutes to do this can make a huge difference in your mood. Naming what you feel, the old ‘name it to tame it’ technique, actually calms the emotional centre of your brain as well. Offer yourself some kindness or compassion and see what that feels like.

Everyone has ultra-busy and complicated lives these days. Extreme busyness can leave you feeling exhausted mentally and physically. Mindfulness is an excellent way to work wisely with these states.  Rather than letting your Autpilot habits yank you around much of the day, try switching over into Awareness mode multiple times a day (or even once.a day!). This practice should offer you more opportunities for choice rather than the automaticity and the subconscious habits of Autopilot. Try one or more of the suggestions above, or find other ways to fit small bits of mindfulness into your day. It really can be done in some way, shape or form pretty much anywhere and anytime.

Give it a shot for a few days, and you might be surprised.  Your mind and your body will thank you!