Let’s talk about mindfulness for a moment. Simply put, mindfulness is about paying attention and living in the moment. Think of it as taking the time to stop and smell the roses. It’s about cutting out the distractions and noise. It’s about choosing to focus on something in particular.
There are some big benefits to practicing mindfulness. Top among them is of course feeling less stressed. One of the reasons we feel stressed is because we are pulled in many different directions and are constantly bombarded by new information, media, and demands. Practicing mindfulness allows you to tune out the noise and give your mind a break. This in turn will help you relieve stress and by making mindfulness part of your daily routine, you can start to permanently reduce stress and negate some of its negative side effects.
Practicing mindfulness doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. You don’t have to get into any long mindfulness meditations, unless you want to. You can start with some very easy and simple things. Let’s take mindful eating for example. Instead of eating in front of the TV or looking at your phone while you munch on a slice of takeout pizza, try this instead. Get out a plate and put your food on it. Arrange the slices of pizza and maybe add a small side salad. If you’re feeling fancy, grab a knife and fork. Sit down at the table and put your phone away. Focus on the food. What does it look like? What does it smell like? How does it taste? Savor each bite and pay attention to how your body is starting to react. Not only is it a great way to destress, you’ll find you’ll get a lot more out of each meal and this type of eating tends to keep you from overindulging.
Another great way to practice mindfulness is with a mindfulness meditation. Focus on your breathing and notice how the air rushes in and out of your lungs, what it feels like to have it move in through your nose and out through your mouth. Pay attention to the rise and fall of your abdomen.
You can practice mindfulness anytime, anywhere. The hardest part is remembering to do it. Create one or two small rituals for yourself that focus on mindfulness. Maybe it’s a simple meditation in the morning, or really paying attention to that first cup of coffee. Maybe it’s going for a stroll after dinner by yourself where you can practice being mindful of your surroundings and the beauty you encounter. Give it a try as we go into the New Year and start to reap the many short and long-term benefits of practicing mindfulness.