We hear it all the time, that in order to reduce stress and help control anxiety, we need to practice mindfulness. Most of the time, what comes to mind when we think of mindfulness is a person sitting on the floor in criss-cross-applesauce position with their eyes closed and feeling pure zen. It looks amazing, but for most of us, that's not the reality of life. It's not easy to just forget all of the things on the to-do list and quiet the brain. If it were, we wouldn't be so stressed in the first place!
Mindfulness is a practice, so the people who can sit there and turn off their brains have done a lot of practicing to get to that point. Instead of focusing on the (seemingly impossible) end goal of being able to quietly meditate, try implementing mindfulness in other ways throughout your day.
10 Take A Moment To Breathe Deep In The Shower
A lot of people do some of their best thinking in their shower. Great ideas, inventions, and clever come-backs to hypothetical arguments are often created during a long shower.
Unfortunately for moms, long quiet showers are hard to come by. So, instead of trying to solve all the world's problems during your quick rinse, spend a couple of minutes letting the water run down your back and just focus on your breath.
Breathe in deep through your nose, and out through your mouth slowly. Focus on inhaling and exhaling and you'll realize that you're not thinking about all of the things on your to-do list, you're just calming your body and your mind.
9 Observe Your Surroundings When You're Standing In A Line
Whenever you find yourself in a long line, you likely pull out your phone to help distract you and pass the time. As important as those Facebook updates maybe, consider skipping the distraction and using that time to look around.
Really take in your surroundings and try to identify five things you see, four things you hear, three things you can feel, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This is a good grounding exercise to bring you into the moment, which is exactly what mindfulness is about.
8 Close Your Eyes And Take In The Smell Of Your Morning Coffee
Look, we understand that being able to make and drink coffee with little kids running around is a true luxury. If you're one of the moms that like to wake up early so you can enjoy a cup of joe before anyone else wakes up, use this time to practice some mindfulness while you're at it.
Just take a moment to close your eyes and focus on the taste, smell, and warmth of the coffee. Be present in the moment. You'll feel relaxed in no time!
7 Really Listen To Someone You're Conversing With
Oftentimes when we are communicating, we are thinking of how we are going to respond to someone's sentence while they're still talking. By doing that, you're likely missing out on a lot of key points your friend is making. So, practice really listening to them while they're speaking and being totally present in the conversation.
It may be difficult at first because it's an unconscious thing most of us do, but mindfulness is all about bringing awareness to those unconscious things.
6 Turn Off Electronics
This isn't a surprise to anyone. Phones, tablets, TVs, and every other screen in-between are all distractions. We aren't saying that you can't watch the final season of The Good Place or anything, but maybe one night a week (or even one hour one night a week) try to go screen-free to see if you feel a little more relaxed.
You may not be able to distract yourself from the craziness of the day, but you might be able to sit with your feelings a little more and identify how you're doing emotionally.
5 Eat Slowly And Mindfully
This is a practice a lot of nutritionists and therapists have their clients do. Oftentimes, we're very distracted while we're eating - in the car, at the table reading, in front of the TV, or even sitting there with the family while trying to corral the tiny humans. When that happens, you don't actually enjoy your food, you just inhale it to fill up (and often overeat because you're not able to check in with your own body to gauge fullness).
Any time you're able, just sit down at the table with your food and no other distraction and really experience the food you're eating.
4 Practice Yoga
Yes, yoga is often a go-to when someone is trying to help you find ways to relax. While that's true, it is relaxing, it's more that it encourages mindfulness.
Unless you're a yoga pro, you're going to have to really focus on your body and breath in order to hold difficult poses because balancing is hard! If you're practicing yoga, you don't have time to think about anything but the present because if you do, you'll fall out of your pose and possibly on to your face (still, it's such a great practice!).
3 Sit Outside And Feel The Sunshine On Your Skin
It's no secret that fresh air and sunshine are good for the mind and mood. Still, you can do a little more to get some mindfulness in when you're out there.
Find a bench in a warm sunbeam, close your eyes, and just feel the sunshine on your face. Practice grounding exercises (like what we talked about earlier) and discover how relaxing even five minutes of quiet time can be. You'll be itching for your work breaks so you can do it again in no time.
2 Express Your Gratitude Every Day
At the end of a long day, it's easy to plop down on the couch and just recount all of the stuff that happened. The kids were a nightmare during bedtime, you burned dinner, your boss wasn't pleased with a project you turned in - it can be a real bummer!
Instead, try to find five things from the day to be grateful for, because even on the worst days there is something good like having a home with beds for your kids, having food to be able to cook, and being employed. This optimism will help you see your own world in a different way.
1 Focus On Music Instead Of Playing It In The Background
A lot of us turn on music just to serve as background noise while we're working or doing something else. Instead of listening to it while you're distracted, pick one song, pop in your earbuds, and really listen.
Try to identify different instruments you hear, really focus on the lyrics, and check-in with yourself to see how the song makes you feel. In doing this, you're being present in this activity you enjoy instead of just seat dancing in the car while you're driving in rush hour traffic.