What comes to mind when you think of practicing mindfulness? Do you picture someone meditating cross-legged on the floor for 30 minutes or moving through yoga poses for an hour? While these are popular examples of mindful practices, they barely begin to scratch the surface of the ways we can incorporate mindfulness practice to help manage stress. In fact, we can turn almost anything into a mindful practice with four guiding principles:
When starting something new, we often try to do too much, too soon. If this is the case, it typically leads to a feeling of burnout and we quit before we are able to enjoy the benefits of achieving our goal. One way to avoid this is by making the initial goal manageable and easily attainable.
Make your practice intentional
Intentionality is key when trying to cultivate new habits. Take some time to plan the best way your new practice will fit into your schedule. Once you have a solid plan, set a recurring reminder in your phone to help you stay on track.
Begin with something you already enjoy
The easiest way to start incorporating mindfulness is to pair it with activities we already enjoy. Some examples include reading, listening to music, creating art or watching TV. Pairing mindfulness techniques with these types of activities makes it more likely that we stick with our practice and transfer the techniques to other situations as well.
Incorporate breathing techniques
Practicing deep breathing has numerous benefits. It helps us relax, reduce stress, and improves our lung function. When we incorporate deep breathing into activities we already engage in, we often find that it helps us stay more focused on the present moment. Start by taking breaths in through the nose for a slow count of four, then exhale through pursed lips for a slow count of four.
In today’s world it is easy to feel consistently overwhelmed with information, full schedules and constantly trying to multitask. Sometimes when we feel this way, we can feel like we’re working on autopilot but running on fumes. Intentionally setting aside time to slow down gives our minds and bodies a chance to decompress. When we can do this on a regular basis, practicing mindfulness becomes second nature and we reap the benefits in all aspects of our lives!
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