Something I’m often asked by clients in our sessions is “how do I incorporate mindfulness into my everyday life?”. We often have plenty to fit into a day as it is, and the thought of cramming in another task for the to-do list can feel overwhelming. Mindfulness isn’t about committing to an hours meditation everyday, but how we bring intention and presence to each activity. I teach my clients techniques and tools to use throughout their day, so that they’re always being mindful. Whether it’s taking 5 minutes to set your intentions, using breath work to keep us grounded or bringing our concentration to individual tasks - let’s talk about how we can bring more awareness to our daily routine.
1. Set your intentions
There’s a lot to be said about starting your day with intention. As the unconscious part of our mind does a lot of the steering, we can bring a richer experience of fulfilment if we set intentions for our day. Whether our intention is to eat healthier or simply to take our full lunch break, you will already be starting your day off with more focus as you work towards actioning it. Sometimes our intentions can just be to be kind to ourselves when we have a busy day ahead. Remember, intentions are not goals and are there to bring us more clarity, not to be punishable if they’re not achieved.
2. Mindful eating
One of the most pleasurable experiences for us as human beings is eating food and hydrating ourselves. But how many of us gulp our coffee down and scarf our morning toast on a regular basis? One way to bring mindfulness into our day is to practice eating mindfully. Take some time out to enjoy your hot beverage. Feel the warmth in your hands as you hold the cup and how the liquid warms you up as you drink it. Turn your devices off at lunchtime and focus on identifying each flavour as you enjoy mouthfuls of your food. Sometimes it feels like we do not have time to be with our food, and sometimes that may be the case; but when you can find the time, take a moment to awaken your senses as you have your morning porridge.
3. One thing at a time
It’s estimated that 95% of our brain runs on autopilot. Living in a fast-paced world, we’re taught to be successful multi-taskers and the more you do - the better you are! But I’m here to tell you, being the multi-tasking wizard you strive to be, isn’t all it. Like the tabs open on your computer browser, all of this distraction is cluttering your mind and you will not be giving each task the full attention it deserves. So close down all of the tabs on your computer (or the metaphorical ones in your mind) and bring your focus to one task at a time. You’ll find you’ll awaken some creativity, your memory will improve and you’ll feel less overwhelmed. Win win!
4. Pause and reset
Our brains are magnificent machines that keep on running even while we’re asleep. But they need a rest too! Whether you need to bring a refreshed perspective to an old problem or struggling to get yourself into the right mindset - try taking a mindful pause or take 5 minutes to walk away and enjoy a cup of tea. I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro method which is a popular time management technique and widely used to boost productivity. Simply pick a single task, remove all other distractions, set yourself a timer for 25 minutes and work away on that task until your time is up. Once the timer goes off you should take a short break to ‘reset’ your mind. I often use it to break down big tasks and have found it really effective.
5. Exercise awareness
Whether it’s on your lunchtime walk, daily run or your Zumba class in the evening - try bringing your awareness to physical activity. How does your body feel as you take each step? As you lift and place your feet on the ground. Can you notice how each individual muscle contracts and relaxes as you shift your weight around? What smells and sensations can you notice? Try making a mental note of the colours you see on your walk or how your heart rate shifts as you speed up and down. You may even notice you feel more invigorated!
Mindfulness doesn’t need to feel like a chore and should be used to bring you fulfilment. It’s different for each individual and should be made personal to you. Maybe try sitting down and thinking about your typical day to see what little mindful habits you could drop in to your regular activities. If you have any questions or need some guidance, drop me an email at email@example.com I’d be happy to help!
Choice is a powerful act in mindfulness and is the purest form of freedom. Often most of us forget that we have options in nearly all situations we find ourselves in. In this post I want to explore with you how giving yourself back choice, instead of succumbing to the feeling of obligation, is the most fulfilling way to true self-awareness.
I recently stumbled across this old article in Psychologies magazine by Edith Eger, holocaust survivor and author of her book The Choice, on how to be truly free. In this article, Edith explains how it was her choice to set herself free from her painful past that gave her true happiness. It's often our reaction to what we perceive as a negative situation that we struggle to shake off the most. This usually causes us to harbour deep-rooted feelings around that said situation and can lead us to avoid any situation that could cause us to feel that way again. But what if we decided to give ourselves the choice to feel differently or to let go? Or even to be OK in our own uncomfortableness? Just because you feel a certain way about something doesn't mean you do not have the choice to change the way it effects you. Edith tells us that we can experience our lives more fully if we accept that bad things happen and embracing it. That's some great advice.
The choice mindset isn't just about how you chose to feel. It's also about what you decide to take on. How many of us have never said no to a work colleague or a family member in fear of rejection? But we're often left feeling overwhelmed and overstretched. This unhelpful belief that people will think you're unhelpful and unkind when you do not take them up on their request is sticky for a lot of people, and it doesn't factor in your own self preservation. Next time you find yourself in this situation, think about how this will impact your mind and energy, and then make your decision from there. Saying no does not mean you are a bad person and you'd be surprised at how understanding others will be of your decision. They're human too after all!
No matter how difficult a situation is, you always have your choice. Chose to feel your emotions and bring new perspectives to a problem. Chose to say no when you do not want to do something. Chose to do nothing for a day. Chose self-compassion and self-love. I promise you it will be one of the best things you've ever done.