A big trend in the world of health and wellness is mindfulness. Being mindful means intentionally paying attention to the present moment—not thinking about what happened earlier, or planning for later, but just appreciating the here and now.
Studies show that practicing mindfulness can benefit our physical and mental health. People have reported better memory, fewer symptoms of depression and reduced anxiety. Some even say practicing mindfulness has led to less physical illness.
The idea of mindfulness goes back thousands of years and is closely connected with meditation. But for many of us, finding the time—and the place—to start meditating seems unattainable. The good news is there are simple ways we can incorporate mindfulness into our daily lives without meditation.
Eat Mindfully. Grab-and-go meals are sometimes a necessity, but mealtime provides the perfect opportunity to relax and reflect. Next time you’re eating, slow down, breathe and take the time to enjoy the taste and texture of every bite. Chew your food thoroughly and slowly. There’s no rush! Listen to your body and your hunger. If your body doesn’t like what you’re eating, stop. If you’re full, stop. Be thankful for what you are eating; and if you are with friends or family, tune in and truly appreciate the moment.
Take a Walk. Whether you prefer a casual stroll around the neighborhood or a serious hike, walking is the opportune time to absorb the sights, sounds and smells around you. Notice the small details. Feel your feet as they contact the ground. And as you’re fully experiencing the moment, try to forget about the things that happened earlier in the day, as well as the stuff you know you will have to deal with later. If you’re really present, you might find a simple walk can be an amazing way to reconnect with the world around you.
Think About Breathing. Seldom do we think about our breathing. However, paying attention to each breath is one of the simplest ways to practice mindfulness. When you find your day becoming hectic, wherever you are, take a moment to breathe. Feel the natural rhythm. Breathe strong, deep and slow. Notice the air as it moves in and out of your lungs. Let your belly move up and down. While you’re focusing on your breathing, give yourself permission to forget about everything else going on in your head.
Start and End Your Day Screen-Free. Many people wake up and immediately turn on their TVs, tablets or phones to see what they’ve missed while they were sleeping. Plenty of people end their days with some sort of screen as well. Consider taking a break from emails, weather reports and the news. Use the early morning to focus on yourself and your plan for the day. Right before bed, turn everything off and dedicate some time to recollect the good things that happened during the day and to be thankful for everything—even the stuff that didn’t turn out perfectly.
Try some of these simple mindful moments today. You’ll be glad you did.