When life’s stresses get the best of us, it can be hard to stay afloat. In the midst of projects, exams, and work, it gets hard to stay present. Whether your schedule is fully booked from saying yes to too many things, your boss is driving you insane or you’re moving to a new city, our own emotions often get put on the back burner. That’s where mindfulness comes in.
It can be hard to make time for ourselves when life is chaotic. We feel the need to stay busy, to make more plans, stay a couple extra hours at work to prove how dedicated we are. We feel selfish to take time to relax, as if we’re not doing enough.
As spring is here, try to practice being self-aware and practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the non-judgemental state of being completely aware of your feelings, thoughts and sensations. The goal of it is to be aware of your mental, physical and emotional states.
When you’re overwhelmed and want to take baby steps toward self-care and mindfulness, here are five ways to practice a more mindful living:
Focus on your breath
One main factor in being present and practicing mindfulness is breathing. Take strong, slow breathes and make sure you’re breathing down to your belly. As you breathe, acknowledge your thoughts, even close your eyes. Just stay present, focus on your breath, and let the pressures of the day go away.
When you’re socializing, be present in the conversation. Be aware of your surroundings. Listen to the words the person is saying. Ignore any thoughts that come into your mind or any stress that’s on your back burner. Truly engage with the person you’re with by noticing them fully. Practice active listening. Don’t think about how you’re going to respond, just listen to what the person is saying.
Even if it’s just for a few minutes, meditation is powerful for mindfulness. Similar to breathing, focus on your breath as you close your eyes, sit up straight, and focus on your inner thoughts and emotions. Don’t be scared of your thoughts are they come and go. Be present in the meditation and think about how you feel, what sensations you feel. Think about your breathing patterns, then be aware of how your legs or arms feel. Be aware of your body and breathing, and how that makes you feel.
Think about how to nourish your body. Think about what it wants to eat. Don’t just have popcorn next to you as you watch Netflix and aimlessly munch. Think about what you’re craving, what will make you feel good and strong. Your body needs fuel. Be present in making the food, how all the different aspects of spices and ingredients come together to make a meal. Focus on your food and be thankful for it.
Take a Walk
Being mindful is as easy as taking a stroll. Be present in the experience of taking a walk. Think about what you’re seeing, how you’re feeling. How your body feels as you move across the Earth. We often scurry to get to places, in a rush because we’re late to work or class. Slow down and take your time. Admire the architecture, the clouds, and greenery. Listen to the noises around you. Engage all your senses and be present as you take a walk.
Mindfulness is all about taking the steps toward being self-aware. Follow all or a few of the steps to try to be more mindful and present, even on the busiest days.