Want to enjoy better health, better moods and better relationships? Then tap into the power of mindfulness.
In a world where we are constantly surrounded by stimulation, from email notifications and endless phone interruptions to multiple screens clamouring for our attention, it’s very possible to be permanently distracted. And where has it got us? If anything, we are less productive, more anxious and on the whole, unhappier than before.
The solution might very well lie in not spreading our attention so thinly, but rather focusing it more fully on the moment. The key to doing so is mindfulness.
While mindfulness began as a meditation ritual, it is increasingly being thought of as a daily practice, a mindset and a philosophy. To put it briefly, mindfulness is awareness in the present, a moment-by-moment focus. It’s taking time to truly reflect on your body, emotions and surroundings, rather than simply letting things pass you by.
What the science says
If it all sounds a little too new age – like tree hugging and healing crystals – you should know that researchers are backing the benefits. Multiple studies have turned up evidence that mindfulness is extremely helpful in a wide range of situations relating to both mental, emotional and physical wellness.
Mindfulness helps in:
- regulating your emotions to better handle stress and improve mood
- focusing less on pain to improve your quality of life
- reducing stress, depression and inflammation (according to research in cancer patients), and
- improving memory and overall brain health
Fortunately, learning to be more mindful does not require any specific equipment or training. Here are five tips for introducing mindfulness into your life.
Wake up slowly
Instead of setting your alarm for the last possible minute, wake up a few minutes early and take stock of your life. First take a minute to realise how your body feels. Are there any aches and pains? Stretch and notice your muscles. Then ask yourself how you feel emotionally and try to understand why you might feel that way.
Practise taking moments during the day to just notice and appreciate where you are and what you are doing. How are you feeling? What are you thinking about? By observing your thoughts and considering them, you can better understand your own emotions and triggers. Breathe consciously.
Focus on your senses
Our understanding of the world comes to us via our senses. Choosing to focus on what your senses are experiencing may help you to ground yourself in the present. When showering, appreciate the water and the lather. When eating or drinking, try to taste every mouthful. Why not try the 5-4-3-2-1 technique and try to list five things you see, four you hear, three you smell, two you touch and one you taste.
Be mindful of others
When you are speaking to someone, focus on what they are saying. Notice what they are doing with their hands and truly try to understand them. Converse to listen, not to get your point across first.
Mindfulness is like a muscle that needs practice. The more often you act mindfully, the easier it will become to do so naturally. Try this mindfulness quiz to help you understand the practice and how you can improve.
If you need emotional support, reach out to your employee wellness programme.