Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to what is happening in the present moment. It is a skill that can be practiced in a variety of ways, but it is most effective when practiced to change the way you think about the world around you. When you practice mindfulness, you become aware of your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations as they arise and pass through your body, mind, or emotions. You can notice when you are thinking about something that is not happening, such as a thought that you want to do something but you don’t have the time or energy to do it. Or you may notice that your mind is wandering from one thought to the next as if you were trying to remember something you had forgotten. Mindfulness can help you notice these thoughts and feelings and stop them from interfering with your day-to-day life. This is especially important when it comes to dealing with stress and anxiety, which can cause you to overthink and overanalyze your situation. By practicing mindfulness you can learn to be more present in your life and be less likely to get caught up in worrying about things that aren’t happening to you or that are not important to your well-being. Mindfulness is one of the best ways to reduce your stress levels and improve your mental and emotional health. Here are a few ways that mindfulness can make a big difference in how you feel and how well you function in everyday life:
- Increase your awareness of what’s going on inside of you: When we are stressed or anxious, we tend to focus on the negative aspects of our situation, rather than the positive aspects. For example, instead of thinking, “I’m stressed out,” we might think of something negative that happened to us that caused us to feel stressed. Instead of focusing on that negative thought, it may be helpful to simply notice the thoughts that arise in our mind and let them go. If you’re feeling anxious or stressed, try this simple mindfulness exercise: Take a deep breath in and hold it for a count of five. Then take another deep breath in, hold for five, then take a breath out. Repeat this process as many times as you need to. As you do this, notice how your breath becomes more and more relaxed as it goes through the different stages of inhalation and exhalation. Notice how it becomes easier and easier to let go of any negative thoughts you have about your current situation and focus instead on your breathing and the feeling of relaxation that it brings. The goal here is to become more aware and less distracted by your worries and worries about other people or the future.
- Decrease the amount of time you spend thinking and analyzing: The more we think and analyze our problems, the less time we have to spend with our friends and family and enjoy the simple things in life that make us feel good. One way to decrease this time is by practicing mindful breathing. Try this mindfulness practice: Close your eyes and relax your shoulders. Imagine that the air you breathe is moving through you, like a stream of water flowing through a pond. Now breathe out slowly and deeply, holding your breath for 10 seconds. Breathe in again and exhale slowly. Do this several times a day, for at least 30 minutes.
- Reduce the number of times you make negative statements about yourself: Negative statements are often the first thing that comes to mind when we experience stress or anxiety. They can also be the last thing we do before we go to bed. Negative thoughts can harm our mood and our ability to function at work or in social situations. So how can we stop making negative comments about ourselves and instead focus our thoughts on what we can do to make our lives better? Try these mindfulness exercises: Sit comfortably in front of a comfortable chair or on a cushion. Place your hands on top of each other, palms facing up, fingers pointing toward the sky. Relax your arms and legs as much as possible, keeping your back straight and your chest up. Take deep, slow, deep breaths in. Hold them for 5-10 seconds, counting to 10. Next, inhale deeply and slowly, with each breath, until you reach the 10-second mark. Exhale and repeat the process.
- Practice being present: Being present is an important part of being mindful because it helps us notice and respond to our emotions and thoughts without being overwhelmed by them. We can practice this skill by focusing our attention on one thing at a time and letting it go at its own pace, without judging it or judging ourselves for not doing it at the same time. Start by taking a minute or two to sit quietly and breathe deeply. Let your attention drift away from any thoughts or feelings that may arise. Once you’ve done this for several minutes, bring your focus back to whatever it was that was distracting you from the task at hand.
- Pay attention: Paying attention is another important aspect of mindfulness