Mindfulness is paying attention to our thoughts, actions and feelings. It’s important in today’s stressful world. We spend so much time looking at screens that we are rarely ever present with anything we are doing physically, or with other people.
Learning to develop mindfulness will help reduce stress and increase happiness. Here’s how to do it:
1. Meditate – Meditation is the best way to become mindful. It is the act of letting thoughts pass through your head and being able to maintain focus on your breath. It’s a skill that you must learn, but it has many benefits for stress, focus, clarity and controlling emotions.
We advise using a guided meditation to learn how to do it, there are many apps and websites available. You do not have to sit cross legged in a monastery to meditate. You can do 5-10 minutes sat in your chair at home and get all of the benefits you need.
2. Deep breathing – Breathing is the most natural thing in the world, right?
It happens automatically and we never need to think about it, but maybe we should? Many of us, due to stress and poor posture, take short and shallow breaths through our chest. We’ve lost the ability to breathe deeply through the stomach.
Regaining this ability will improve health, reduce stress and increase mindfulness. Simply sit or lay and take long, deep breathes in through the nose and out through the mouth. If you place your hand on your stomach, you should feel it going up and down as you breathe in and out.
3. Chew your food – Yes, when we are eating is a great opportunity to be mindful, but most of us are not. We’re playing on our phones or watching TV instead of focusing on eating.
Try just sitting with your food and having a focus on tasting and chewing your food. This carries many benefits, as well as increasing mindfulness, it also helps to recognise when you are full and control the appetite to eat a healthy amount.
You know how it is when you’re sat watching a movie; mindlessly dipping your hands in to the popcorn and suddenly all 2,000 calories of it have disappeared.
4. Get ‘in your body’ – What does this mean? Simply, to be conscious of what your body is doing. You can do this in many ways, one of my favourites is when you are walking, to actively focus on the muscles working.
Squeeze the calf muscles as you extend the foot, squeeze the butt muscles as your hips come through, and feel a little tension in your abs as you stand tall with a straight spine.
Something as simple as walking can be a great way to ‘get in your body’ and feel the muscles working.
The benefit of this is that when you are focused in your body, you are not focused in your head. Your thoughts slow down and anxiety washes away. Allowing you to create space and clarity in your mind.