By Avani Papadopoulos
What is mindfulness? It’s being present and in the moment. It keeps you centered and focused, which is important because you should be aware and in touch with yourself and your feelings as well as be able to take notice of how others are feeling.
Why is it good to be mindful? Not only does it help you relax and be in control of your emotions, but it also helps us accept our thoughts and feelings and keeps us moving forward. We don’t judge ourselves as much as we may have if we weren’t being mindful individually as well as around others.
Ways to be mindful can be included in your morning routine. For example, while you’re brushing your teeth, showering, or eating breakfast, notice how the brush feels in your mouth, how the water feels against your skin, or how your food tastes when you’re not watching TV. Take time doing so, and try not to feel rushed because you have to get someplace or do something else. Psychcentral recommends practicing mindfulness during routine activities as well as practicing right after you wake up, saying “Mindfulness practice first thing in the morning helps set the ‘tone’ of your nervous system for the rest of the day, increasing the likelihood of other mindful moments.”
When you’re walking outside, that could be another opportunity to practice mindfulness. Noticing things you didn’t notice before—how the leaves have changed color, how the weather feels, etc.—or counting how many sounds you can hear is not only a mindfulness technique, but also a relaxation technique as well. That being said, using your five senses while doing something outside and taking note of how you feel can be really good for you. An easy way to do this is by counting one smell, two sounds, three things you can touch, and so on until you reach five. You can also do it in whatever order you want.
Listening to your breathing and practicing meditation can also be a relaxation/mindfulness technique. Focusing on your breathing while on a run, or noticing a rhythm in your breathing while taking a test can be a way to incorporate ‘mindful breathing’ into the day.
If you’re waiting for somebody, let’s say at school for lunch, that gives you an opportunity to practice mindful breathing as well. Can you imagine accepting the chaos or distractions around you wherever you are and just being okay with it? Accepting it might help it not occupy your mind as much as it would if you were trying to push it all away at once.
A simple act of kindness could also be an act of mindfulness. For example, writing a kudos statement and having it shared at morning meeting. This way, you’re taking note of the positive things others are doing, not just yourself.
When you’re talking to somebody, try not to wander off in your own thoughts. Actually try to remember the things that your friends, family, teachers, people presenting at morning meeting, etc. are talking about. It’ll go a long way and they will appreciate you for making the effort.
Try to do things you love and pay attention to them. You should be doing these things because you want to, so shake any feelings of worry or other negative thoughts and be present instead. Try to do these things daily as well. It’s important to have hobbies.
When Allie Skalnik, a sophomore, needs something to recharge herself and take a moment, she finds time for herself by reading and writing. When she reads and writes, it allows her to consider things from a different perspective, where she can detach herself for a short period of time from the rest of the world. Walking outside also gives her mind time to reflect and relax.
In addition, being reflective at the end of the day can help ensure a good night’s sleep. Writing down things that happened from your day that you were mindful about can make you feel better about yourself as well as be a nice final closing statement about your day before you go to bed.
These small acts of mindfulness can extend from anywhere, at any time of the day. Instead of reaching for your phone, maybe instead reach for a pencil to write, or even text some friends to go on a walk outside. Don’t think of mindfulness as an exercise, but a lifestyle.
Image courtesy of Mindful.org