The practice of mindfulness originated thousands of years ago and means paying full attention to one’s surroundings at the present moment. Although it’s not a clinical technique, it is an active component of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and carries a variety of benefits to our everyday self-control and general happiness.
By definition, 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.” Being mindful is not a superpower – everyone can learn to do it. Chances are, you have already experienced it at certain times in your life, such as when doing routine work or feeling present when spending time with someone you love. With that in mind, the team at THIRA Health has compiled a number or simple ways you can continue to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine and collect its benefits without turning it into a boring chore.
1. Practice mindfulness during routine activities
When doing something that doesn’t require much intellectual activity – such as doing the dishes, folding laundry or even getting dressed in the morning, focus on your actions. Pay attention to your movements and the results of the activity you are participating in. Being in the moment of a routine activity will help you de-stress.
2. Start with a morning routine
The success of our day often begins with our mornings, so why not take control of them and set yourself up for success? Whether it is 2 minutes or 30, start following a morning routine. Here are some ideas:
- A set of exercises to stretch
- Making your bed and drinking a glass of water before breakfast
- Drinking your morning coffee outside, appreciating the view
- Working out at the gym a set amount of time
3. Become mindful about your surroundings, reactions and emotions
If you notice that you do something to take control of the situation and anxiety, begin practicing that in other situations too. It may be helpful to practice this as a skill, and sooner or later it will become a learned habit you won’t be thinking about.
Focus on one activity at a time and be present during it. In today’s digital world, this is especially true as we get distracted by buzzing smartphones and background music. To start, try setting your phone aside for most of the day and check it only at certain times (for example, at 9 am, 12 pm and 7 pm). When it comes to spending time with your loved ones, set the phone aside as a whole and put it on silent to avoid any distractions. Most things can wait!
5. Seek out new experiences
We suggest to set a weekly or monthly goal to do something new. It doesn’t need to be a grand adventure every week, but opening yourself up to something new will distract you from stressful thoughts. Some examples include exploring a new neighborhood once a month or perhaps, meeting for lunch at a new restaurant every other Sunday with a certain friend.
Practicing mindfulness is not a general formula that everyone must follow. It is a mindset where we feel present in the moment and focus on enjoying it. Not always, perhaps, but sometimes. By appreciating our surroundings and experience (good and bad), it is possible to feel at peace with yourself and become more aware of all the wonderful things that happen around us.