Have you ever felt a weird twinge of restlessness inside your stomach when you think about the things that are on your to-do list? They could be completely mundane tasks like folding laundry or working on a project. Have you realized that when you are giving in to your future anxieties, you are completely ignoring the present moment? Not being immersed in the present and playing out future events invites stress, uneasiness, and anxiety. Let’s unclog our minds and focus solely on the current moment — let’s embrace mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a fulfilling word; it’s about staying in the moment and connecting without any distractions or obstacles. It’s about letting go of the near future and embracing the present. By intentionally activating the parasympathetic nervous system, mindfulness is scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety while improving our ability to focus and perform. Mindfulness allows us to pause, take a breath and give ourselves a chance to relax and enjoy the present moment.
How does one incorporate the art of mindfulness in their life? Here are seven mindfulness activities to get you started:
1. Begin by Setting an Intention
Before diving into projects and the demanding tasks of your life, take time out to engage in activities that enable you to center yourself first. This means focusing on what you and your body desire. It’s like eating an appetizer before the main course. You are treating yourself by highlighting your needs. Do you enjoy creating a to-do list to organize your day? Do it first! Yoga, mediation, or just a cup of nice warm coffee? Go for it. Begin by making the day about you.
2. Deep Breathing Exercises
Breathing is an involuntary action. However, we are prone to take quick, short, and shallow breaths. Taking deep, meaningful, and focused breaths can do wonders for your body as well as invite mindfulness. Whether you’re interested in breathwork trends or just improving the quality of your breathing, take a moment to inhale a long, deep breath when feeling overloaded or stressed out. Let the oxygen travel through your body, focus on how your lungs react to this deep breath. Hold in the air for four seconds, then slowly exhale, expelling the stress and the cluttered thoughts with it. Repeat this five times and notice how much better you feel afterward.
3. The Savor Challenge
No matter how much we enjoy eating food, most people tend to eat quickly or are far too distracted by their phones or watching TV. This habit can increase the risk of overeating, bloating, and even indigestion. In response, it invites irritation, stress, and potential disrupted sleep due to gas. Strip this habit by taking on the savor challenge. It’s simple: put your phone away or whatever is prone to distract you away from your meal. Remember you are practicing mindfulness, therefore connect with the present by savoring every bite. Let the food sit on your tongue, fold it over and notice the texture, the flavor, and the feeling it releases in your body! Chew slowly and enjoy it. This method will allow you to both celebrate and connect food with your body.
4. Gratitude List
Mindfulness is also about being grateful for the present. This keeps you grounded and hyper-connected to your surroundings. Whether it is your favorite meal, a person, or a book, write about all the things that you are grateful for. This will become your gratitude list. It’s a great way to recall whatever you did throughout the day and what made you happy. To be specific, instead of writing ‘I am grateful for music.’ Write: ‘I am grateful for Peace by T.S.’ and ‘how wonderful the line “sit with you in the trenches” feels to me.’
5. Stillness Exercise
Invite mindfulness to your day by staying still. Stillness is intimate because you are focusing on your favorite thing. It could be your breath and how your body reacts to the feeling of it. It could be your favorite memory, a song, a delightful image, or a mantra—whatever allows your mind to settle down and embrace its inner workings and thoughts. If you become distracted and your mind starts to wander, simply acknowledge the distraction and redirect your thoughts back to the exercise.
6. Move and Feel Exercise
Connecting with how your body functions is an aspect of mindfulness. Stretch, relax, repeat. But be slow and focus on every movement of your body, the muscles, and how your heart reacts to the various mixture of feelings and sensations. You can perform jumping jacks, twisting at the waist, or sit-ups. The point is to get your heart rate up for 60 seconds, and then begin to relax. As you begin to relax, pay attention to your heart pounding in your chest, notice how it begins to beat slower and slower. This is not only a great way to feel more self-aware of your body, but when you feel the sensation of your heart beating you will truly feel alive!
7. Foot Grounding Exercise
Mindfulness is a great remedy to wipe off jitters and stress. A simple foot grounding exercise can help you start. If you feel anxious, place your feet firmly on the ground, either sitting or standing. Inhale – hold for four seconds and then release. Repeat. Concentrate on the movements of your breathing, feel how the soles of your feet react to it.
You can even practice this by going for a walk and being attentive to the weight shifting from your toes to the center of your foot. It’s a great way to stay grounded while connecting with the present moment. Try this on grass, especially early in the morning and barefoot.
Mindfulness is all about being in the present moment: noticing thoughts, sensations and emotions. Follow these seven healthy mindfulness activities for beginners. They will bring you peace and stability while relieving stress, anxiety, and restlessness.
To learn more about mindfulness and the like, check out Alan Carroll & Associates, a global leader in professional communication skills for over 30 years. ACAmindfulyou.com