When you think of mindfulness what do you think of? Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. And gratitude.
As adults, especially women, we experience many situations where our anxiety and stress are through the roof. Mindfulness is a powerful way to handle stress and live life more fully. Mindfulness is all about living fully in the present moment, without judgment, and with an attitude of kindness and curiosity.
While some adults have mastered the skill of practicing mindfulness, not all of us have. By teaching yourself the tools to navigate our fast-paced, high-tech world, you are giving yourself the skills and permission to lower your stress level and handle the everyday ups and down of life. Practicing mindfulness is so important in our day to day lives.
Practicing mindfulness improves concentration which leads to better impulse control. Better impulse control will lead to better decisions! Practicing mindfulness also helps to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression.
So you may be asking yourself, how you can learn the skills you need to practice mindfulness? Well first, you need to realize that practicing mindfulness techniques are the most natural thing in the world. Second, you must know the key components of practicing mindfulness:
- Pay close attention to your breathing, especially when you are in particularly stressful situations. When necessary, take a moment to calm your breathing. Inhale for 4 seconds and then slowly exhale for 8 seconds.
- Take a moment to really focus on the things going on around you. There are sights, sounds, and smells that ordinarily slip by without reaching your conscious awareness. Being aware and grounding yourself, so to speak, will help you gain awareness in your situation.
- Realize that your thoughts and emotions are not what define you in that given moment of anxiousness. Give yourself permission to change from negative emotions and feedback to positive. Make a conscious shift from the negative to the positive.
One of the most common ways that people practice mindfulness and get their mind right for the day is meditation. Meditation is the practice of shifting your mindset to a healthy, positive perspective. It can be simple, and it can be short. I recommend starting with a 5 minute morning meditation time right when you wake up in the morning. You can start with a daily reading and then literally just have quiet time to let that absorb for a few minutes. There are lots of apps available that will take you through a guided meditation to help you get started.
You don’t have to meditate to achieve mindfulness though. You can practice mindfulness throughout your day. For example, you are at work and on a deadline and no where close to being finished with your project. Take a moment, breathe, focus on your breath, and repeat the positives of your situation. You could say things such as:
- I can and will get this project done on time.
- I am smart, talented, and able.
- I have already completed xyz of this project, and I am capable of completing the rest.
As Buddha once said, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” The next time you start to feel anxious take a moment to step back from your situation and practice mindfulness. Or try starting every day with a 5-10 minute mindful meditation to set a positive tone for your day.