When do we speak of Mindfulness, and how can we develop good habits? When are we being mindful, and how can we train ourselves to be more “in the moment” and aware?
Mindfulness at work is all about increasing awareness of yourself in the moment, your thoughts, emotions, how your body feels (physiology) and how they interact with each other. In that, Mindfulness is about looking inward, but it is also about looking outward and becoming more aware of your surroundings, helping you develop empathy and a deeper understanding of those around you.
Mindfulness is a state of being, a skill, that can be developed over a period of time. It requires you to confront your thoughts, emotions, body-feel, increase your curiosity, become more non-judgmental and living in the moment. How can you develop these skills to help you become a better human being, more at home in your own body and more at peace in your soul?
Much like managing anxiety, stress or unwanted negative emotions, building Mindfulness can draw from a vast range of resources open to you. Some may suit you better than others. You will find your own best methods as you start trying to practice Mindfulness.
Here are some of my top tips for developing Mindfulness:
Slow Down and Get Rest
We don’t sleep enough in this society anymore; we feel guilty when we sit down and appear to be seen as not doing anything for a moment. A pair of idle hands is something to be scoffed at. No more! To reduce your levels of stress, anxiety and perceived lack of control, you need to get more rest. If you want to get more done, you need to sit down more often and sleep more. Aim to be in bed by 10.30 pm, lights out at 11 pm. Have a 5-15min break in the day. It is my wish that this daily break will soon become 30mins.
Make a Daily To-Do List
A super powerful tool you should get in the habit of. Once your important daily tasks are put down on paper, you can relax, not worry about forgetting them, and, most importantly, tick them off one by one. If you wake up at night with worries flying through your head, keep a pen and paper by your bedside. Quickly jot down what is flying through your head and get back to sleep. You will be more focused and relaxed, allowing yourself to be more in the moment.
Move Your Body -Get Daily Exercise
Science proves time, and again that physical exercise is crucial for good mental health, and good physical health; it makes you happier, and feel better about yourself. Exercise actually makes you more productive as it helps your brain focus better, process tasks faster and retain more information. Half an hour a day is all it takes. And while you may think that physical movement and Mindfulness don’t go together, remember that you can allow your brain to float or think things through while running/walking. Likewise, yoga trains your brain to be more in the moment as you have to concentrate on your poses and on getting them right. This also relaxes your brain and trains you to become more aware of yourself and your surroundings in the moment.
Listen to Music, Take up Art, Start Creative Writing, Play – Foster Creativity.
As adults in this world, we literally need to learn to play again. Children absolutely need to play in order to learn about the adult world, learn how to be in the world, and process stresses or losses. Without play, we could not grow up. But as adults in today’s world, we easily forget how important play is in all stages of life. So, whether you pick up a new or an old habit, make daily play a habit. Daily playtime is like a “mini holiday”; you allow yourself to get a break from your stresses and worries, from the “adult side of life”, and allow yourself to be free from worry and work, to experience a light and easy level. Even as an adult, you will still process your worries while performing creative art.
Practice Compassion – Empathy, and Self-Empathy.
As a society, we are so driven to succeed we can often forget that the essence of life is love, inner peace and friendship. Therefore, as part of your Mindfulness practice, I recommend that you take up a volunteering position locally or start supporting a charity close to your heart. The empathy you will develop for those around you that have less or need more support at a certain time in their lives will make you into a happier, more contented and less lonely person. Empathy and compassion complete a human. When you learn empathy towards others, you will naturally start to become more self-compassionate and start forgiving yourself and allowing yourself to be imperfect where you previously demanded perfection. You will also naturally reduce your need to judge others and yourself by a perceived set of standards. Instead you will become more accepting and loving.
Some further useful tips for developing Mindfulness in your life include
Practice Mindfulness Breathing, start practising a relaxation/stretching technique, play with your pet, eat a healthy diet (I thought I should harp on about this one too much today), meditate, keep a daily Gratitude Journal, go for a walk, practising smiling, enjoy your food, and return to more traditional wholesome rituals from your past.