Everyone has stress in their lives and sometimes finding time to decompress at the end of a long day is difficult. That’s where mindfulness comes in. It is essentially maintaining awareness of your thoughts and emotions throughout your day. Practicing mindfulness can be used to de-stress, reduce anxiety, refocus your attention, and help you stay present with each moment.
Practicing mindfulness means taking the time to tap into your five senses and experience the world around you. “Sense” awareness grounds one in the present moment. You may find that focusing on certain senses are more relaxing than others. For example: if you are in a feeling overwhelmed and anxious in anticipation of an upcoming event, it can be helpful to focus on the moment at hand. Maybe it’s you sitting silently and listening to your breathing, walking a path and focusing on the feel of the ground beneath your feet or slowly tasting a morsel of food.
The mindfulness process is meant to help people focus only on what is occurring in the present. If your mind drifts to events in the past or the future you gently refocus yourself on the task at hand.
Three on-the-go Mindfulness practices:
Walk– Go for a walk inside or outside.
- First, concentrate on each footstep. How does your foot roll with each step? How does the ground feel? Is it soft, hard, curved or flat?
- Concentrate on the sounds. Is there traffic, are there birds, wind in the trees, doors opening, people talking, typing, coughing?
- Focus on the smell in the air. Is there a smell of food, flowers, coffee, perfume?
- Examine the sights you are passing. What do the trees look like? What color is the paint on the walls? What do people passing you look like?
- What’s the taste in your mouth like?
Shower– Shower, whether by morning or night, can be a great time to practice mindfulness. A few minutes of alone time each day can go a long way. Concentrate on the sounds of water flowing and hitting the tiles. Taste the water. Look at each drop splashing or dripping. Close your eyes and feel the water massaging and cleansing your skin. Take in the smell of the soap and shampoo.
Groom/pet an animal– Feel the animal with each stroke of your hand. Is the animal soft, rough, fluffy, smooth, warm, cold? Can you feel the heartbeat and breaths of the animal- are they slow, fast, deep or shallow? What does the animal smell like? What does the animal sound like? What does the animal look like?
You can practice mindfulness while driving, sitting at a desk, lying in bed, or at the dinner table. You can practice it in a crowded room or when you are alone. Whether you focus for 1 minute or 20 minutes, you still reap the benefits. Concentrating on the present senses is grounding. It can calm your mind, encourage deep breathing, and steady your heart rate.
When you have a chaotic schedule, this skill is especially practical, because it can truly be done anytime, anywhere… And the more you try it, the easier it is to utilize in your day-to-day.
— Laura Stringer, Springible Contributor