Your Daily Guide To Practicing Mindfulness

Your Daily Guide To Practicing Mindfulness
Mindfulness might be the latest buzzword being bandied about, but for
those living a low tox life, it’s more than just a trend. And with all the chaos
2020 has delivered, we reckon we could all use a few mindful moments.
For the uninitiated, mindfulness is a quality or mental state achieved by
focusing your awareness on the present moment. It can be reached by
focusing on your breath or sensory experiences, or through activities that
hold your undivided attention, like playing an instrument or baking a cake.
A lot of people have an image of someone meditating on top of a mountain,
but the reality is mindfulness is just as accessible when you’re in the office
as it is when you’re alone in nature. 
So how do we practice it? Mindfulness can be integrated into your morning
routine, work life, your home and self-care in both formal and informal ways.
Formal ways include things like meditation and breathwork, whereas informal
mindfulness can be anything from brushing your teeth or exercising - as long
as it’s done mindfully.

Here’s how you can bring mindfulness into all aspects of your life.


Mindfulness in the morning


The simplest of mindful activities is meditation, and it’s an exercise best done
in the morning.  According to Harvard Business Review, meditation literally
changes our brain’s structure. Brain activity is redirected from the limbic
system to the prefrontal cortex - or from the ‘old’ brain to the ‘new’. Over time,
mindful meditation can actually shrink the old part of our brain that sends us
into fight or flight mode, while lowering the level of stress hormones released.
Try starting your day with 5 or 10 minutes of guided meditation, using apps
like Insight Timer or Headspace. 

Mindfulness in the workplace

With phone calls, meetings, work chatter, and everything in between, it can
feel pretty tricky to integrate mindfulness into your work. But it doesn’t have
to involve drastic changes; on an individual level, mindfulness can be small,
influential habits that are repeated to improve workflow, attitude, focus, and
creative thinking. 
For example, try switching off email notifications - it takes a whole minute to
regain your focus after receiving a notification. Instead, assign two half-hour
slots during office hours to check and respond to emails. Imagine how many
interruptions you’re bombarded with every day, and the deep state of flow
you could achieve if undisturbed. 
Mindfulness also looks like taking breaks throughout the day so your brain has
a chance to refresh and reset. Get up from your desk, take a walk around the
block, get some fresh air, eat lunch outside - every individual action is
mindfulness at work.

Mindfulness in the afternoon

Do you feel your energy lagging or mind wandering when 2pm rolls around?
Are you tempted by the afternoon sugar or caffeine hit? Mindfulness can be
both a welcome refreshment for the mind and a way to re-energise yourself.
According to large bodies of research, devoting a small part of each day to
breath intentionally can radically reduce our stress levels, blood pressure,
emotional distress, and more. 
Try the ‘box breath’ technique: breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts,
exhale for four counts, hold your breath out for four counts - then repeat. An
even easier approach is to simply breathe in slowly through the nose, noticing
how the torso expands, pausing for a moment, and exhaling just as slowly -
repeating for five rounds of breath. It’s so simple, you can do it while riding an
elevator, waiting in a queue, sitting at your desk, or when you feel yourself
becoming overwhelmed.  

Mindfulness in the evening

How often do you eat in front of the TV or scoff dinner on your way to kid’s
activities? Well, it turns out there’s plenty of benefits to eating slowly and
mindfully - from your health to your stress levels and your connection to the
present moment. 
Try this: for at least one meal a day, sit down without your phone, music, TV,
or any other distraction, and simply pay attention to the food you’re eating.
Notice how it tastes, feels, smells, truly appreciating every bite. Go one better
by involving the whole family in a nightly mealtime ritual.

Mindfulness before bed

The act of being grateful is one of the best ways to bring yourself back into
the present moment.  You see, while negative thoughts and emotions prevent
our brain from operating at its fullest potential, positive thoughts do the very
opposite. They improve communication throughout the brain, improve our
resilience, support our relationships, and even boost our sleep. 
Finish your day on a mindful high by jotting down three things you’re grateful
for in a journal, and watch how this little habit shifts your perspective with time.

Everyday mindfulness

Mindfulness doesn’t have to be an extra burden stacked onto your already
hectic life. All the practice asks is that you take the time to get out of your
head, notice what’s going on in front of you, and appreciate the present
moment. Different techniques appeal to different personalities, so play around
with these exercises and find what works to bring you back into the present.