Mindfulness & Stress Relief - 5 Habits for a Mindful Life
Modern life can be super stressful and this can negatively impact our health. Most of us are living our lives at a fast pace and we struggle with finding a little bit of time for ourselves in the midst of all the everyday frenzy.
One of the best things that we could do for our wellbeing and mental health is to not let ourselves be overwhelmed by everything that is going on in our lives. In order to better cope with the stress, anxiety and negative emotions we might feel in our lives it’s important to allow ourselves to pause everything for a bit.
Taking our mind off responsibilities and to-do-lists is an act of self-care, something that we need to do for ourselves if we want to live healthier and happier lives.
Mindfulness - definition
One way to do this is by practicing mindfulness, which means being able to stay in the present, without worrying about the future or overthinking the past. To be mindful is to be able to truly live in the present moment and to experience it to the fullest, with all it has to offer: emotions, sights, sounds, smells, taste, etc. The practice of mindfulness is about suspending judgement, letting the mind rest and embracing the present moment with curiosity, openness and kindness.
Mindfulness is first and foremost associated with meditation. Mindful meditation is one of the most used meditation techniques and it’s focused on directing awareness on your breath, your thoughts and all the physical sensations and emotions that are happening in the present moment. The goal is to observe the sensations and emotions you are feeling, but to let them go, without responding or reacting to them.
Although mindfulness meditation is an important practice, mindfulness is so much more than meditation. Essentially, mindfulness equals awareness and acceptance in the present moment and it’s something we can practice at any time. We can easily adopt some mindful habits in our daily lives to better deal with stress and anxiety. These mindful habits are powerful changes in our daily routine that are meant to help us stay present in a fast-paced world.
We have prepared a list of 5 habits for a mindful life you can start adopting right away. These are some mindfulness activities that you can add to your daily routine to start living mindful.
1. Morning mindfulness rituals
A morning ritual is something simple but meaningful you could do for yourself in the morning to prepare for the rest of your day. A morning ritual is about taking time to greet the day, to embrace it with gratitude, serenity and openness.
To practice mindfulness in the morning, you need to do something that keeps you connected to the present moment. You want to start your day with calm, positive thoughts and a grateful attitude.
Your morning ritual shouldn’t be something too complicated or something that takes a lot of time. Some examples of morning rituals include: light stretching, breathing deeply, repeating a mantra or some positive affirmations or just drinking a cup of coffee, tea, water or a smoothie calmly, without any distractions.
The goal is to be open to the present moment, without thinking about the rest of your day and the things you need to do. Having a simple morning mindfulness ritual will help reduce stress throughout the day. No matter which mindfulness activity you choose to do in the morning, it will set a positive tone for your day by clearing your mind of worries and negative thoughts.
2. Spending time in nature
If you are a nature lover, you’ll definitely like this mindfulness tip. Nature is very connected to mindfulness because it allows us to enter mindfulness easily by directing our attention to our senses. Doing this allows us to enter in our ‘sensing mode’, using our senses to take note of our present circumstances.
This means that when we are spending time in nature it’s easy for us to fully focus on what we see, hear, taste and smell. We can be deeply aware of the nature around us and we can let ourselves be immersed in all the colours, shapes, sounds and smells surrounding us.
Being in nature means that we give more attention to everything around us, our senses are activated and more open. This helps us escape our minds and be in the present moment. Spending more time in nature can be a great mindfulness practice to keep us relaxed, happy and healthy.
Next time you find yourself hiking or spending time outdoors, pay attention to your surroundings and try to switch to ‘sensing mode’. Focus on all the natural details you have in front of your eyes and on the specific sounds you hear, letting go of all your other thoughts.
3. Mindfulness at work
Many people struggle with having a proper balance between work and personal life. We might get so caught up in our work that we forget to take breaks. Sometimes we’re so glued to our laptop screens working on solving all our tasks and trying to be productive that we decide we just don’t have time for a proper break.
If you’re super busy at work and you think that you don’t have time for breaks, remind yourself that it’s better to have a short 10-15 minute break and continue working with full focus than wasting time doing unproductive work.
Practicing mindfulness at work helps relieve stress and improves focus. One way to do this is to take a break and go for a 15-20 minutes meditative walk that will get your body moving and increase your focus when you get back. You don’t have to go to any place in particular, you could just walk around your home if you’re working from home or your company’s building if you’re working in an office.
The goal of a meditative walk is to be mindful of your surroundings as you walk and to pay attention to details you encounter. This can be things like buildings facades, the leaves on the trees, sounds you hear, colours, shapes, etc. Try to focus your attention on noticing new things and details. While you’re walking, pay attention to your body as well and on the physical sensations you feel while you move.
End your meditative walk with a short break. Stay outside, take in the fresh air and enjoy a smoothie on the spot to hydrate and refuel before going back to your tasks. With the Blendaco portable blender you can prepare a healthy smoothie, snack or meal replacement on the go in less than 1 minute. It’s very lightweight and compact, perfect to take it with you at work, in the park, at the gym or on a hike.
4. Mindful eating
We eat to satisfy our need for nutrition, but eating could be so much more than that. Mindful eating focuses on eating as a pleasurable experience that we engage in by fully enjoying and savouring our meals. In order to be able to do this, we should really take time to experience the taste, flavours and textures of our food and to let ourselves really feel the enjoyment we are receiving from it. Plus, eating your meal in a hurry is really bad for your health.
To eat mindfully, the whole focus should be on your meal, without other distractions like checking your phone, working or watching a Netflix show as you eat. Mindful eating also takes into account listening to your body and the physical sensations of hunger and fullness so that you can make a mindful choice about what, when and how much to eat. Do you feel emptiness in your stomach, low energy, stress, a growling stomach or any other physical sensations?
An important tip for mindful eating is to take a couple of deep breaths before starting your meal. This will allow you to slow down and to start eating peacefully. Being relaxed makes it easier for you to digest and savour your food. At the same time, take a few seconds to say a few words of gratitude about the food you’re about to eat. You don’t need to say the words out loud, just think about everyone and everything that made your meal possible and give thanks. Practicing gratitude is an important part of mindfulness - we celebrate the present moment and take note of the good things we have in our lives.
5. Bedtime ritual for mindfulness relaxation
This mindfulness habit is especially useful if you suffer from periods of insomnia. When you have difficulties falling asleep because your mind won’t stand still, a mindfulness bedtime ritual can help put your mind at ease.
A bedtime ritual for mindfulness relaxation starts with no screen time. You will need to put away or turn off your devices 1 hour before going to bed. This means no TV, phone, laptop, tablet, etc. These devices are highly distracting and this step is necessary.
After doing this, you can focus on getting in a mindful state by lighting a scented candle, breathing deeply, stretching your body, drinking a cup of herbal tea, playing some nature sounds, reading a few pages of a book you like (ideally something calm, not crime novels) or repeating some mantras or positive affirmations.
The goal of this bedtime ritual is to unwind after the day, to find peace in the present moment without thinking or worrying about things you need to do the next day. While doing some of these mindfulness activities you are surrendering to the present, letting go of all the thoughts, ideas, emotions that you have collected throughout the day. Your mind is calm and relaxed. If you are still anxious, thinking about things you need to do the following day it’s a good idea to write them down on post-its or on a piece of paper. This way you won’t forget about them and you can take this burden off from your mind as you prepare to fall asleep.
This bedtime ritual is similar to the morning ritual we mentioned earlier. You could choose both or only one of these two mindfulness habits to add to your daily routine, depending on your schedule and preferences.
Mindfulness is a practice for a peaceful, happy and healthy life and it’s not only limited to mindfulness meditation. There are a lot more mindfulness activities you can try. We hope that you have found these 5 mindfulness tips useful. You could start with one of these mindfulness activities on a daily basis to relax and improve your overall mood.
We’re leaving you with an inspiring mindfulness quote for today:
“Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life