You might have heard of the term mindfulness in connection to meditation. But mindfulness strategies include more than just meditation. Mindfulness is the process of being present-focused (which means attending to the moment and not being pulled away by worries or regrets), non-judgmental (observing and describing our experiences), and accepting (not actively struggling against your experience). The great news is that you don’t need to spend a lot of time to practice mindfulness. Research shows that there are many benefits to practicing mindfulness:
- Giving you a moment to pause before reacting (having a greater awareness and ability to step back from your thoughts)
- Reduced activity in your amygdala, which contributes to decreased stress
- A calmer mind, which can help you process emotions differently and can change your attitudes towards stress
- Greater sense of care and compassion towards yourself and others
- Increased muscle relaxation, slower heart rate, improved immune functioning and more
- Better memory and improved focus
One way to increase your mindfulness is to practice it while you are doing mundane tasks, such as:
- Doing chores (like the dishes, laundry etc)
- Brushing your teeth
- Walking (to bus, from place to place on campus)
- Eating or drinking
- Lying in bed in the morning or night
When you are in each of these situations, to practice moment-to-moment mindfulness, you need to immerse yourself in the experience. What do you see, hear, smell taste and feel? For example, if you are doing the dishes, notice the texture and number of bubbles in the sink. Notice the smell of the detergent. Notice the feeling of the warm water on your hands. Notice the sound of the tiny bubbles popping as you go. While you are immersing yourself, notice what you are used to not noticing when you are normally preoccupied with thoughts. If your mind wanders while you are trying to practice mindfulness, just note that your mind has wandered and redirect your mind to your practice.
If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness and strategies for managing worry and anxiety, sign up for our next Alleviating Anxiety seminar.