Do you ever go through a day feeling like you’re running on autopilot, checking things off a to-do list without even asking why, looking back on your day, wondering “what did I even accomplish”? This happens to me – all the time… more often than I’d like. I bet you can relate at some point or another.
When asked what the most important part of our day was, or even what we did during the day, many of us end up not being able to recall specific, meaningful activities. I’ve done a lot of my own research on mindfulness and as much as we hear to “just be mindful,” it’s not that easy.
Here my best practices to become more mindful.
- Go for a walk or run – outside. There’s something about fresh air, green grass, and trees that relaxes your mind. According to a 2013 UK study, “Walking through green spaces may actually put the brain into a meditative state. The act of walking in a peaceful outdoor landscape was found to trigger “involuntary attention,” meaning that it holds attention while also allowing for reflection” (Huffington Post).
- Disconnect. Put the phone away. It’s hard to be mindful when your phone is pinging with texts and notifications. Next time you’re trying to get something done, set the phone aside on silent, turn off the notifications, and focus on the task at hand. Tell yourself you’ll check it once you’ve finished the task, or after a given time (at least 30 minutes).
- Write. This is one of the best ways to reflect and put your mind at ease – by spilling them out on a page. At the beginning or end of each day, open up a notebook and write how you’re feeling, what’s on your mind, how the day went, etc… Another option is a gratitude journal. Jotting down 3 things you are grateful for has been shown to improve happiness levels and feels of gratitude, which in turn, makes for a better life. Looking back on these later on is really incredible as a reminder of how much good is in your life.
- Listen. Really listen. In your next conversation, focus less on what you are going to say next and more on what the person is actually saying. You’ll find that dropping the agenda leads to a much higher quality conversation and a lot more to discuss.
- Eat slowly. I have a hypothesis that has been tried and tested – the last bite is never as good as the first. In fact, the first bite is usually the best. Practice the 3-bite rule. Allow yourself 3 bites of a sweet dessert or savory recipe, focusing on chewing fully and cherishing the flavor. This practice, when developed over time, will get you in touch with your taste buds and lead to eating less by improving satisfaction. Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life is a good book to learn more about mindful eating.
- Create something – this could be a tool, a photo, a picture in an adult coloring book… anything that allows you to harness your creativity and think outside the box. Mindfulness and creativity go hand in hand, particularly because challenging creative work puts you in a concentrated state of flow.
- Get some Headspace. This is by far one of the staples to mindful living. All it requires is 5-10 minutes for quiet time and peace of mind. It can be meditation, or simply silence. I use an app called Headspace.
My Mindful Toolbox of Resources: