Mindfulness is the act of being present and aware of our thoughts. Sounds super easy and natural, right? While it’s certainly natural, quieting our wild minds is anything but easy for most of us. We’re bombarded with distractions, pings, texts, ads, and ever growing to-do lists. The net effect is damaging to our health. As Winston Churchill said, “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” While daunting at first blush, we can tame our minds when they go into overdrive, but it takes concerted effort. The task is to redirect our thoughts and focus back to the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness is a muscle in that you have to practice consistently to see improvements. Here are five easy tips to help you become more mindful in your daily life.
Get your ‘om’ on. Meditate: Take 10 minutes a day in a comfortable and quiet space, focusing on your breath. Our minds are used to constant thoughts and chatter so it can be a challenge to simply “be.” Observe your thoughts without judgment and simply breathe. Concentrate on your breath. Repeat. Meditation is linked to lowered stress, improved focus, better connection with others, and reduced brain chatter. Need more direction? Try these beginner techniques to learn to meditate.
Put down your device. Our phones are like junk food for our brain. While wonderful and needed in many ways, too much device time is linked to poor sleep, increased anxiety, and a host of other poor health outcomes. Monitor your screen time usage and create your own set of “rules” around your phone, such as limiting time on Facebook, no internet browsing after 6pm, and keeping your phone in your trunk when driving. Leave your phone in a different room at mealtimes or at home or in the car for out of the house gatherings. Both Apple and Google have tools to help manage your screen time on their devices (Apple screen time settings /Android Digital Wellbeing).
Catch the wandering mind and redirect. Take time throughout the day to observe the background chatter in your brain. Acknowledge them in a non-judgmental way, then redirect your thoughts to the task at hand. Having a set time of day (like first thing in the morning) to make your to-do list and prioritize your day can help cut down on unnecessary chatter by being more organized and thoughtful with your planning.
Talk through your daily routine actions in your head. “I am brushing my teeth.” “I am walking into the kitchen.” “I am making eggs for breakfast.” By having an ongoing commentary with yourself about your current actions, you inherently stay in the present moment.
Get outside and walk in nature. There is something about being outside, hearing the noises of nature and feeling fresh air on your face that helps you to feel more calm and focused. Plus, you’ll get exercise, improve your sleep, feel better, boost your immune function and creativity.
Kris Jackson is a certified Health Coach and Personal Trainer with a specialty in Behavior Change and Fitness Nutrition through the American Council on Exercise. As the founder of n8Longevity, an app-based virtual health coaching service focused on nutritional accountability, Kris helps clients live long and healthy lives by focusing on food, fitness, and lifestyle choices.