Mindfulness- being aware of your self your surroundings in the present moment, is becoming a more recognized practice in our society. I, for one, am happy to see people have a stronger desire to focus on their current self and how simple things can bring joy in the moment. Research in this cool info-graphic shows that people have been found to be happier when they are practicing mindfulness compared to daydreaming about their next beach getaway. Mindfulness practices can decrease anxiety, improve concentration and memory, help you be more connected with those around you and even improve your health goals (diet, exercise, distance goals.)
Building mindfulness into your daily routine doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming for it to begin to show its benefits either. Start small with these gentle ways of getting the hang of mindfulness below and soon you’ll be finding yourself wanting to focus on the present more often and with less effort.
– Brush Your Teeth Mindfully. One method that I recently learned was to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Surprisingly enough it can be somewhat tricky to use your opposite hand and it almost forces you to be mindful and only think about brushing because it isn’t something that you’re used to doing. Brushing your teeth only takes a few minutes first thing in the morning & adding in mindfulness can be a great way to start your day off being mindful of the present.
– Be Mindful While Washing Your Hair. Another opportunity to be mindful in the bathroom is in the shower when you’re washing your hair. You don’t need to try to focus on the present moment during the whole shower (though you could!) For many of us, we think and plan our day when we’re getting ready which is fine and often needed but not for every step of the routine. Instead of rehearsing your speech for the morning meeting or running through your grocery list focus on the suds in your hair for a few moments. Really feel your hands in your hair, lathering up all of the strands in your hair & recognizing that you are taking care of yourself. Feel the water as it rinses out the shampoo and runs down your body. This simple act alone can help you be more aware of your self in your body in the space around you.
– Be Mindful in Nature. I know getting outside and being active in the outdoors daily can be less of a reality and more of a dream for many, but I’ll bet your routine could afford 5-10 minutes of sitting outside a few times a week. One of the most rewarding spaces to be mindful is in the outdoors, whatever that may look like to you. Whether it’s sitting on your front porch/balcony, going to a park or dangling your feet off the dock by a lake- it feels so good! Step outside during your lunch break or take a few minutes at the end of the evening and practice being aware of yourself in nature. You may be surprised what you’re senses will open you up to! The feel of the breeze in your hair, the smell of the dew in the morning and the sound of the leaves rustling in the trees are all part of the mindful experience & can bring a sense of joy to your day.
-Communicate Mindfully. One quick way to increase your connection with someone is to actively listen to them in conversation. When you’re mindful in listening to someone that person feels heard, recognized and valued- all wonderful characteristics of a healthy relationship. Each day find one person to practice having a mindful conversation with, even if it just starts out on your side by listening mindfully. Notice your partner’s body language as they share stories from their day. Listen for the words chosen by your child when they tell you the favorite thing they learned at school that day. Picking up on these small things in conversation can allow you to get to know that person better and be more in tune with those around you.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these quick little tips on how to build mindfulness into your day. Improving yourself doesn’t always mean drastic changes, often adding in gentle ways can be more effective with longer lasting results. If you would like to learn more about adding mindfulness into your life through therapy please feel free to reach out to me, I’d love to help.
I am a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist practicing in the Lake Norman area of North Carolina. I enjoy working with people on improving their lives, relationships and feeling all around more mentally healthy.
Michelle A Coomes MA, LMFT 704-237-0814