Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).
Wrapping up our series on mindfulness, we’re sharing 25 ways you can incorporate mindfulness into each area of your life.
Some will feel pretty simple. Others, maybe not.
Just pick a few to try, and jump in whenever you’re ready.
(Maybe even before you’re ready… sometimes, that’s where the good stuff is.)
Wishing you a happier, healthier, more mindful and emotionally well New Year!
Mindfulness ideas for health
Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves.
Thich Nhat Hanh
- Start the day with intention. Before you reach for your phone or turn on the TV, pause to take a deep breath, stretch your body, and visualize your day.
- Listen to your body. Is your stomach growling? Are your toes cold? Does your back feel strained? Is there tightness in your chest? A headache brewing? Your body is constantly feeding you a wealth of information. Tune in and see what you can learn.
- Practice eating mindfully. Minimize distractions and give yourself time to really enjoy your food. Appreciate its visual appeal, notice its smells, and savor the flavors and textures as you eat.
- Take a solo walk. Save the podcast for another time; just get out and enjoy some uninterrupted time, walking.
- Give meditation a try. You don’t need to sit motionless for hours on end to reap the emotional wellness benefits. Need help getting started? Several apps (e.g., Calm, Headspace) offer free, brief (guided and unguided) opportunities to practice.
Mindfulness ideas for work
To pay attention. This is our endless and proper work.
- Begin each work day with a list of 3 goals for the day. Allocate your time and energy to prioritize the tasks that support 1 (or more) of those goals.
- Resist the urge to multitask. Set a timer and focus on 1 task at a time without switching to something else (including email).
- Take a true lunch break. Step away from your work, and eat on your own or with colleagues.
- Connect personally with coworkers. Make time to chat with the people you work with about something other than work.
- Visualize your tomorrow. Take a few minutes at the end of the day to review what you’ve accomplished and draft 3 goals for the next day.
Mindfulness ideas for rest
Paradise is not a place; It’s a state of consciousness.
- Schedule time for rest. Just as you make time for important meetings, appointments, and other events, your rest time deserves to be a priority on the calendar. So, plan ahead, choose a day and time for dedicated rest, and then guard that time fiercely.
- Let your mind wander. Prone to planning and mental list-making? Give yourself a break and just see where your thoughts lead you.
- Simplify your “downtime”. If you’re curled up watching Netflix, don’t also open your laptop. If you’re enjoying a dinner with friends, leave your phone alone.
- Distract on purpose. Ever catch yourself scrolling through social media without even realizing it? Or re-opening an app you just closed moments ago? Even in the most mindless of distractions, there is room for mindfulness. So, whatever you do to distract yourself, try to choose it intentionally, rather than simply going through the motions. (You’ll enjoy it all the more.)
- Leave space for play. Whether it’s an impromptu dance party, a new sport/game, or an invitation to drop everything and “pretend” with a child, opportunities for play are all around. While not traditionally restful, play can be an incredibly restorative balance to the demands of everyday life.
Mindfulness ideas for relationships
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention.
Thich Nhat Hanh
- Remember the names of people you meet. Are you “just bad with names”? Many of us are. Often, it’s not a problem of memory, it’s that we’re not really listening closely in the first place. Calling someone by name is one of the simplest ways to connect. So, focus your attention when you meet a new person, and you might surprise yourself.
- Make eye contact. Whether you’re distracted or feeling uncomfortable, it’s easy to avoid looking others in the eyes. But, eye contact is another of the simplest ways to communicate, “I care, and I’m listening.”
- Listen to understand. When another person is speaking (especially in the midst of an argument), many of us listen in order to plan our next reply, or to be “right”. This fractures communication in relationships, however. So, instead, try listening with the goal of understanding where the speaker is coming from, how they’re feeling, and what they need from you.
- Look for the good. Wishing you could find even 1 thing to like about your nosy neighbor, surly teenager, or cranky cubicle mate at work? Good news: You can. There is always something to appreciate about even the least likable people. Find it, and your life will feel just a bit easier; acknowledge what you appreciate out loud, and you might make their day, too.
- Greet with love. When your partner walks through the door at the end of the day, how do you respond? When your child comes bounding up at daycare pickup, what’s the first thing you do? There’s power in the tiny, mundane interactions we share with each other every day. Let your daily reunions with the people in your life be as loving as possible.
Mindfulness ideas for everyday life
We have only now, only this single and eternal moment opening and unfolding before us, day and night.
- Cue yourself. Struggling to fit mindfulness into your day? Build in a simple reminder to pause and mentally check in with yourself. Set a daily alarm or anchor the practice to something you do already, like brushing your teeth or putting on your shoes.
- Focus on your breath while you wait. Stuck in traffic or an extra-long checkout line? Take the opportunity to notice your breath. Is it shallow or irregular? Try to slow it down with a few deep inhales and exhales.
- Enjoy quiet time in the car. Turn off the radio/music/GPS and just take in the drive.
- Choose a mindfulness mantra. This is a brief phrase or sentence you can memorize and call to mind whenever you feel yourself living mindlessly. You can draw inspiration from elsewhere or simply create your own. A few ideas: Inhale love, exhale hate; I have everything I need; I take my time in all I do; I am doing my best with what I have, where I am, right now.
- End with gratitude. In the moments between your head hitting the pillow and your mind drifting off to sleep, close your eyes and think of 1 thing from the day you’re grateful for. Concentrate on it, allowing yourself to truly feel gratitude.
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