Simple Mindfulness Exercises You Can Do to Feel Better
Updated on 14 Feb 2024 • 6 min read • posted by Tania
Nowadays it’s common to feel disconnected from the present moment, caught up in the past or future while missing out on the now. In such a state, we tend to switch on autopilot and just skim over the surface of our days without truly living them.
That's where mindfulness comes in. A simple term that actually can have a crucial impact on the quality of your life. So let’s learn together what is mindfulness, how to fully immerse yourself in each moment, and how to experience life in high definition.
What is Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully here and now. That means – paying closer attention to what you're doing, how you're feeling, and what you're thinking at this very moment. By practicing mindfulness, you focus on what's happening in your body and mind right now. It helps you to feel calmer, self-aware and improves concentration.
How to Practice Mindfulness
This is certainly good to define mindfulness, however, it’ll be even better to learn how to practice it. So we’ve collected practical mindfulness activities and techniques to help you start your practice of being at the moment:
Environment-Focused Mindfulness Practices
Be conscious of your surroundings. It includes visual observation and paying attention to sounds, smells, and emotional atmosphere. Observe your surroundings: notice the colors, shapes, and try to use all your senses. Then reflect on the experience.
Savor your morning beverage. Pay attention to the process of making your coffee or tea. Notice the unique smells of what you're using, the warm steam coming off your drink, and how the hot cup feels in your hand.
Bask in clean laundry. Whilst folding laundry, concentrate on the textures of the fabric and breathe in the scent of the detergent you used.
Limit distractions. Commit to doing or completing a task without distractions for a certain period of time. That means putting your phone aside, ignoring notifications and only sticking to websites that are required for the completion of the task.
Go cold turkey on social media. Try a social media detox and watch as your productivity soars and anxiety decreases when you’re not constantly bombarded with images of friends and idols living their best life. The inconvenience of having to re-enter your password should be enough to dissuade you from signing in again for a while.
Create phone-free zones. Make certain areas in your home a phone-free zone. For example, you could start with the bathroom or the dining table. Once you have relieved yourself, or eaten your meal, your phone will be right where you left it.
Self-focused Mindfulness Activities
Mindful drawing. It's not about creating a masterpiece or demonstrating technical skills but about the process of drawing itself and illustrating our feelings on the canvas.
Write a journal. Journaling is an excellent stress-reliever and calms an overactive mind. There are many topics to journal about, such as occurrences throughout the day that made you happy, things you’re thankful for each day.
Mindful listening. This practice helps promote better communication and deeper connections. Focus on what you're hearing, whether it's the words of a loved one, the sounds of nature, or your favorite piece of music. Try to avoid forming judgments or responses while you listen. Instead, embrace the sounds and silences, and notice the emotions they evoke within you.
Body scan meditation. Focus your attention slowly and deliberately on different parts of your body, from your toes to the crown of your head. As you concentrate on each area, observe any sensations, such as tension, warmth, or relaxation, without judgment. This practice helps increase bodily awareness and presence.
Sitting meditation. This is one of the most traditional forms of mindfulness practice. Choose a quiet and comfortable space, sit with a straight back, and close your eyes. Focus on your breath — its rhythm, the sensation of air entering and leaving your body. If your mind wanders, gently guide it back to your breath.
Walking meditation. It involves being fully present while you walk. Start by paying attention to the sensation of your feet touching the ground, then gradually extend your awareness to the rest of your body and surroundings. It's a wonderful way to practice mindfulness while engaging in physical activity.
These mindfulness exercises are simple starting points for your practice. They provide different ways to center your attention and achieve greater mental clarity and relaxation. Choose the one that works best for you or incorporate all of them into your daily routine to reap the benefits of mindfulness. Remember, it's about the journey, not the destination, so be patient with yourself as you cultivate your mindfulness practice.
If you would like to learn more about how mindfulness can benefit you, be sure to subscribe to our mailing list and look out for the next article in this introductory series on mindfulness.
Why Practicing Mindfulness is Important
The speed with which we complete tasks on our daily to-do list is constantly decreasing due to distractions. In fact, by using a smartphone, the brain is receiving a huge rush of dopamine each time a new notification pops up – particularly those of the right type. This dependence on smartphones can destroy our attention span and thereby focus and productivity.
According to a study by psychologists at Harvard University, an astounding 47% of our waking hours are spent disengaged from the various tasks we try to complete throughout the day. This is where the importance of practicing mindfulness comes in. It helps us break free from this cycle of distraction, which consequently enhances our focus and the quality of our work. More importantly, mindfulness promotes mental well-being and provides a path to greater happiness. That is why practicing mindfulness is not only beneficial for our productivity but is crucial for fostering a more fulfilling and balanced life.
Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
Imagine being able to connect deeply with your loved ones, understand your pain and lower your stress levels. Mindfulness is like a secret ingredient that can add a touch of balance and calm to your life recipe. So let's dive deeper into key benefits of mindfulness:
A reduction in stress. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress by developing our capacity to cope with stressors adequately and improving mood. If you're experiencing sleepless nights due to anxiety, or finding yourself snapping at loved ones or coworkers out of irritability, you should consider integrating mindfulness into your routine. Engaging in mindful practices could bring a significant positive shift in your overall well-being and the way you navigate your day-to-day life.
Understanding pain. Physical and emotional pain is an inherent part of life. Yet, how we perceive and react to this pain significantly influences our experiences and quality of life. Practicing mindfulness doesn't necessarily eliminate pain, but it equips us with the tools to understand our pain better and reshape our relationship with it.
Reduced susceptibility to depression. Mindfulness is thought to reduce depressive symptoms and anxiety by increasing our ability to regulate our emotions. We might not be able to avoid negative emotions completely, but what we can do is acknowledge them instead of resisting them.
Improve relationships with food. Studies have shown that practicing mindful eating prevents you from overeating and ensures good digestion, that will align with the body's natural cues. So mindful eating harnesses the full nutritive value of food and fosters a healthier relationship with eating, making weight management more attainable.
Enhancing communication skills. We often find ourselves physically present in conversations but mentally preoccupied, missing out on crucial elements of the exchange. Through mindfulness, you learn to clear away the mental clutter and focus on the person in front of you. You become more responsive to their words, emotions, and non-verbal cues.
How often to practice mindfulness?
Just start off easy – try to dedicate 10 to 20 minutes each day to really just being in the present moment. What's important here is sticking to it and making mindfulness a part of your daily life. Remember, patience and self-compassion are key.
Is 5 minutes of mindfulness enough?
Yes, even just five minutes of mindfulness can be beneficial. Starting with small, manageable increments can make the practice less daunting and easier to integrate into your daily routine. During those five minutes, try to be fully present and intentionally focused. Begin to experience the calming and centering effects of mindfulness. Over time, you may find yourself naturally wanting to extend your practice as you become more comfortable and start to notice its benefits.
What's the difference between mindfulness and meditation?
Though both terms are often used interchangeably, there are a few nuances that differentiate them. Meditation refers to a variety of techniques, developed by ancient cultures, aimed at calming or relaxing your mind. Mindfulness, however, is the act of consciously focusing your mind on the present.
Being mindful means being here and now. It helps you focus on what's happening in the present, rather than getting caught up in stress or trying to avoid unpleasant feelings. It’s like hitting the pause button on life, taking a moment to really notice what's happening around you and inside you.
You can practice mindfulness anytime, anywhere by using just your mind. Why not give it a try? You might just find that it helps you enjoy life even more.