5 Ways to Live More Mindfully
Are there times when you feel anxious or fearful for seemingly no reason? Do you find it hard to get a good night sleep which sometimes results in feelings of exhaustion, weariness and a lack of focus? Are you a perfectionist and do you tend to over analyse things? If you can recognize some of these traits in yourself, it could be a sign that you are caught up in a pattern of over thinking.
There are times when we get so absorbed in our day-to-day thoughts we become disconnected from what is happening around us. We fall into a cycle of rumination and feel so stressed, worried or anxious to the extent we become detached from ourselves and start operating on auto-pilot. Caught up in our repetitive, habitual and seemingly endless thread of thoughts, we lose our connection with ourselves and the present moment.
Practicing ways to become more self-aware and mindful can stop this cycle. Mindfulness can help us to slow down and tune in to the present moment. If practiced regularly, it can help us to gain clarity and connect to what it is we need in the moment to help us feel more restored and to live with more intentionality.
1. Unplug yourself – step away from the electronic devices
We can lose a significant amount of time surfing the web or browsing through our social media looking at pictures, reading posts and a plethora or articles. The exposure to so much stimuli can be distracting. We may start out doing one thing then a couple minutes later something else grabs our attention and before you know it an hour or two has past. When we jump from one item of interest to the next we are not really taking time to be mindful of what it is we are seeing. So much so, we may come away feeling drained, slightly disorientated or as though you have just roused from a digital induced haze.
Give yourself a break from your phone, laptop, iPad etc… if you want to read something opt for a book instead. If you do need to access to the web, try to engage more mindfully and with intention. For example, if you want to read a specific article, stick with it. After you read it, instead of going straight to the next article. Take a moment to think about what you have just read.
2. Create a daily mindful routine
You can incorporate mindfulness practice into a routine you already have established to get you into the habit. For example, you could start by mindfully brushing your teeth in the morning or practice mindful eating during breakfast. It is at these times when we tend to get caught up in a cycle of worrisome, future orientated thoughts about the day or the things we should have done.
To help start the day off on a more grounded and balanced note, practicing ways to anchor yourself into the present moment can have great calming benefits. Perhaps before you head out, whether it’s for work or an appointment etc, set off a little earlier and walk slowly, look around you and notice your surroundings. Be gentle with yourself.
3. Deep breathing exercises
Shallow breathing or under-breathing can create anxiety and tension in our bodies. Increasing our awareness of how we breath and practicing deep breathing can result in many benefits, it can relieve tension, help you to de-stress and relax muscles. If at any time during the day you’re feeling a little on edge, take a few deep breaths into your abdomen by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your nose. You will know when you are breathing into your abdomen as your stomach should expand on the inhale. You can try gently placing your hand on your stomach to notice when this is happening.
4. Gratitude list
You could create a mental list or a physical hand-written list of all the things you are grateful for before you go to bed at night specifically relevant to your day. We often get so bogged own with what has gone wrong and think about the things that are not right with our lives, we forget to count our blessings. It could be something as basic as having running water and a roof over your head at night. When you begin to practice gratitude in this manner, it can help to increase your awareness about the things that are going well for you in your everyday life in a more habitual and organic way, helping you stay rooted in the present.
5. Make use of ques or delays
Instead of seeing unplanned delays during a long commute to work for example or waiting in a long que as an inconvenience, you could practice seeing it as an opportunity. Instead of feeling tense, anxious, angry or rushed, use the moment to take some time out, refocus your attention and notice your surroundings. Become more aware of your senses to ground you. What can you see? What can you hear? If your eating you could practice mindful eating, noticing the taste and smell. This can help to alleviate the dispersion of emotional energy that is taken up by worrying about the things that are out of our control such as a delayed train.