Mindfulness is a way of bringing our awareness into the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga. It helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, we're better able to cope with them. There are things we can all do to bring the practice into our daily lives, and the more we think we don't have time the more we probably need it!
1.) Step out of autopilot
By stepping out of autopilot when we're going through the motions each day, we can entrench mindfulness into our lives. For example, when brushing your teeth or putting on make-up in the morning, bring your attention intensely into that moment, paying attention to each brush stroke and how it feels. When you take a shower, focus your mind on the stream of water, the sensation of each drop as it hits you and the sounds of the running water as it splashes.
2.) Mindfulness in those 'I really don't want to be in this situation' moments
Practice mindfulness while you wait. Waiting is a massive source of frustration in today's fast paced hyper-connected society, especially when the waiting feels out of our control, or seems to have no defined end point - like when we're waiting for a delayed flight. Reclaim the time for yourself, and repurpose it as an opportunity to practice a mindfulness technique you've learnt, such as focussing your attention intently on the rhythm of your breath.
3.) Cue mindfulness
Find prompts that remind you to be mindful. It might be a mirror you walk past in the hallway, or a tree you pass when you leave the house each morning. I used to spend my walks to uni worrying about everything I had to get done that day. It might sound silly, but I made one tree on my walk to university my 'mindfulness tree', each time I passed it, it reminded me to bring myself into a more mindful state. After a couple of weeks I found myself practicing mindfulness every morning, feeling much less stressed and ready to face the day by the time I made it to university.
4.) Eat slowly
I never realised how disconnected I was from my food before practicing mindfulness. Now I try to eat slowly, and be grateful for the nourishment that each individual bite of the food gives. Unexpectedly I became so much more aware of the food I was putting into my body that my diet and mood improved. I realised I was eating more junk food and carbohydrates whenever I felt stressed, something mindfulness helped me to practically stop.
5.) Protect time for mindfulness
The more busy we are and stressed we feel, the more we could benefit from mindfulness. The more we put in, the more we get out, and setting aside as little as 20 minutes a day can be enough to see real benefits. I'm not the only one who would say that it can lead to real clarity and peace of mind. People who complete the Mental Health Foundation's online mindfulness course on average report a 58% reduction in anxiety levels and 40% reduction in stress.