As humans, it’s easy to stress about future obstacles, dwell on past mistakes, or otherwise get caught up in a swirl of worries and anxieties that yank us out of reality. Over time, that kind of ungrounded thinking can wear us thin and break down our overall quality of life if we let it.
That’s where mindfulness can help. Mindfulness is one of the simplest ways a person can reduce stress and improve their overall sense of self, purpose, and well-being on Earth. If that sounds something like you would be interested in, here are six practical tips on how to cultivate mindfulness in your daily life.
Although there are many different definitions and variations for the word, mindfulness is the general practice of “living in the moment” as a way to reduce stress and improve one’s sense of self and purpose in life. Often practiced as a therapy technique, mindfulness encourages practitioners to focus on their immediate thoughts, emotions, and surroundings as a way to feel more connected to themselves and ultimately bring peace to their life.
The beautiful thing about mindfulness is that it requires no skill, no equipment, and guidebook to practice. People of any religious affiliation or spiritual practice can benefit from being more mindful.
The truth is, mindfulness can be practiced by virtually everyone. There's also no right one way to practice it, as everyone has different needs and faces a different set of challenges in their lives. Regardless of what brings you to this article, however, here are six tips on how to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life.
Be Kind to Yourself
Before you start with anything else, make the regular effort to think positively about yourself. Doing so will have an uplifting effect on virtually all other areas of your daily activities. If you can see the good in yourself, you’ll have a much easier time finding the good in the rest of the world.
Keep an Open Mind
Keeping an open mind will help you avoid unconscious or reactionary judgments you may make without even thinking about it. Such quick (and often negative) judgments can automatically add stress to your day, so it’s always a good practice to stay positive and judgment-free whenever possible. It’s not uncommon for people to find that negativity in their lives is more a product of habit than it is of an environmental issue.
By focusing only on the "now", who you are, and what you’re doing today, you will improve your sense of connection to the world and to yourself. Worrying about the past or future will only add unnecessary stress to your day and will cloud your thoughts. If you have upcoming commitments or obligations you need to plan for, focus on the positive steps you can take toward satisfying those activities today.
Meditation is a key component of many mindfulness practices. By making a habit of practicing meditation for just 10-20 minutes every day, you'll begin to reduce stress, stimulate creativity, and improve your ability to focus without even thinking about it.
Meditation can take on many different shapes and forms as well, so if sitting cross-legged and chanting a mantra doesn't work for you, don't fret. Even if you only have a few spare minutes to sit quietly with your eyes closed can help calm the mind and help you stay grounded--even at work or school.
A healthy mind and body begin with a healthy diet and a good night's sleep. When you eat healthily and stay hydrated, your mind rewards you with improved focus and clarity. Balanced with exercise, eating healthy may also improve your physical appearance and ultimately boost your confidence as well. When you feel your best and believe in yourself, good things will certainly follow.
Last but not least, in order to practice mindfulness, one must disconnect from technology when possible and reconnect with the physical world. Distractions like emails, notifications, upcoming work plans, and social anxieties will take you out of the headspace needed to feel peaceful and connected to yourself. While technology is a necessity at times, we strongly encourage you to unplug whenever possible--especially before you go to sleep and after you wake up in the morning.
Pathways Counseling Services is a Scottsdale-based counseling practice focused on improving mental health and overall quality of life for all our clients. Alongside our regular counseling sessions, we can also teach clients how to cultivate mindfulness on their own that will have positive and lasting effects long after our sessions have ended.
If you are interested in how to cultivate mindfulness on your own or are interested in regular counseling sessions (in the Scottsdale AZ area), please schedule an appointment here or call us at (480) 235-1682