You may have heard of the term “mindfulness” before. Mindfulness techniques may help reduce overwhelm, overthinking, promote better stress management, and increased life satisfaction. Mindfulness is the awareness that develops when we bring our full attention to the present moment without judgment or attachment. It takes our minds out of the past and out of the future and focuses on “right now.”
Many people think that mindfulness requires a formal meditation practice. However, mindfulness can be informal by bringing awareness to everyday activities. You can achieve mindfulness by bringing your attention to the present moment. Numerous benefits can come with practicing mindfulness, including reduced feelings of depression or anxiety. And if you are not sure how to start, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are five informal mindfulness techniques that may help you get started on your journey to mindfulness.
- Be Aware of Your Breathing
Thich Nhat Hanh, sometimes referred to as ‘the father of mindfulness,’ teaches us how we can get started with this simple task – focusing on your breathing. Whether you’re listening to music, waiting for your order, walking, or just taking a shower, try to pay full attention to your breath. Become present and aware of your inhales and exhales, the rhythm of your breath, and the physical sensations of your body with each breath. For example, you may notice cold air in the back of your throat with your inhales or warm air as you exhale coming out of your nostrils as you exhale, being entirely in the present moment, fully aware of your breath.
- Focus on Everyday Chores
Being fully present and aware can happen any time of the day, including while doing chores. Take washing dishes, for example. Instead of letting your mind wander to bills or your job, you can become fully present with the task at hand — washing dishes. Let your mind acknowledge the shape, material, and design of the plates. Think about how the water feels on your hands, how warm or cold it is, and notice your hands’ movements while doing that activity. Whenever your mind gets distracted or frustrated, acknowledge the thought or emotion without attachment and let your mind return to the activity you are doing.
- Notice 5 Things Around
Noticing our surroundings helps us center ourselves in the present moment. Whenever you feel yourself getting distracted or worried, you can pay attention to your environment; look around. Notice five things you see. It can be a chair, tree, a painting on your wall, whatever. Next, notice five things you can hear – maybe wind outside your room or the light hum of your air conditioning. Finally, focus on the five things that you can feel physically. It can be how your shirt feels on your skin, your feet on the floor, or anything else that you can physically feel in contact with your body. Pay close attention to all of the things that you see, hear, and feel. It can help you remain present and bring mindfulness into your day.
- Be Mindful of Your Breath and Thoughts
This is another breathing technique that you can do throughout the day to increase mindfulness: pause for a moment, make yourself comfortable, and take ten deep breaths. Inhale the deepest that you can, slowly and gently. Notice how your lungs fill with air. Exhale slowly and notice how your chest moves with each breath. Be mindful of your breath. If your mind fills with thoughts, that’s ok. Observe those thoughts from a distance without attachment or judgment. Try not to judge your thoughts as positive or negative; try not to react to them; don’t avoid or hold onto them; observe. This exercise brings a is non-judgemental present awareness without judgment or attachment.
- Mindful Walking
Mindful walking can be bone every time you find yourself walking, even if it’s just when walking from your car to your office. Start with walking slowly for a few minutes and then pick up the pace that suits you the most. Like with other mindfulness techniques, it is important to be aware of yourself and your surroundings. With each step, focus on the physical sensations of your feet touching the ground, how your legs and hands are moving, and how the weight of your body shifts. Be aware of your breathing and the sounds you hear around. Whenever you get distracted and start thinking about something else, gently move your attention back to what you are doing – walking and all of its aspects.
When practicing mindfulness, especially initially, you may feel frustrated sometimes when you find yourself getting distracted. However, as with other thoughts and emotions, try not to judge that frustration as good or bad. Acknowledge it and shift your attention back to a technique that you chose to do.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction may be helpful for those who experience depression, anxiety, overwhelm, and stress. If you are looking for mindfulness in psychology and reside in Florida, Dr. Carolina Raeburn, PsyD, offers mindfulness therapy along with other modalities. You can book your appointment today.
*All the information published in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Any information provided here is offered in generic form. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns