It can sometimes be embarrassing when people suddenly forget or become unconscious of their environment. Gaining consciousness of where a person is and what they’re doing at the moment is very important and, at the same time, contributes to their effectiveness. Whether someone is suffering from mindlessness, depression, or stress, among other peculiar health-related challenges, different mindfulness tips can help them take charge of their present and impact their productivity and relationship with others. Likewise, mindfulness practice can help a person become more focused, happier, healthier, and better manage their psychological and emotional pains.
Mindlessness seems to be a global challenge. Among other factors, stress and depression seem significant in the sense that many are still fighting up-to-date. Research carried out on how to reduce stress based on mindfulness revealed that stress could negatively affect the physical and mental health of a person. This is apart from the fact that it correlates with autoimmune diseases, including high cholesterol, migraines, coronary heart disease, muscle tension, backache hypertension, and other life issues that can pose a threat to human health (3).
Anyone seeking to be more productive, and take charge of their lives and events around them must learn to practice mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness has been linked with several therapeutic benefits to people who have psychiatric challenges. At the same time, it has helped people cope with health challenges, including type 2 diabetes, cancer, fatigue, heart disease, insomnia, and psoriasis (3). This is just to express how important mindfulness is to anyone who desires a healthy lifestyle.
What is mindfulness?
Research carried out on mindfulness training as a clinical intervention, explains mindfulness as a way of paying attention or bringing one’s attention totally to the present experience from time to time or purposefully paying attention in the present moment without being judgmental (4). This then means that one’s ability to focus attention through meditation on a particular thing at a time is part of what mindfulness talks about. To be mindful is to develop consciousness about the present. It is being alert and cognizant of what is going on at the moment.
The American Psychological Association (APA) also defined it as a moment to moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. Even though practices or activities like meditation can promote this, it should be noted that mindfulness is more of a state than a trait; because it is a state, it means that one can master it by practicing.
Importance of mindfulness
Mindfulness practice helps people become more aware of themselves and cope with thoughts that are difficult or unhelpful. It also helps a person to feel less stressed and calmer. At the same time, grants them the ability to choose how they want to respond to their thoughts and feelings. By practicing mindfulness, a person becomes more conscious of the thoughts coming in and going out in their mind, and pays more attention to what their body is telling them, like when they feel tense or are becoming anxious unnecessarily.
Special health reports published by Harvard Health Publishing on how to harness the power of happiness, mindfulness, and inner strength gave some benefits of mindfulness, and some of which are explained below (5):
Improves a person’s total well-being
When a person becomes mindful, it is easier to engage fully in activities and also create the necessary measure to manage adverse events.
By being mindful, a person can maintain focus and suppress anything that could distract them to a reasonable level. Interestingly, when there is a focus, it is easy to pay attention to details and get the best of whatever activity a person engages in at that moment. At the same time, worries are unlikely to set in.
Effective management of physical pain and improvement in physical health
Subjective pain can be better managed through mindfulness. Also, people who have chronic pain manage the situation better. An individual can improve the quality of life they live by practicing mindfulness. Then, they can become more emotionally intelligent when they are mindful of their emotions as it helps them to switch quickly from a negative emotion to a positive one.
They can see the world from a better perspective when they are mindful of their emotions. When a person is mindful, it impacts on how they relate with others. More so, it can relieve them of chronic pain, blood pressure, heart disease, the elevation of gastrointestinal difficulties, and even improve how they sleep.
Depression may be prevented and treated
Through the engagement of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), studies have revealed that depression may be prevented and treated. For instance, a study conducted on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy with maintenance antidepressant treatment when preventing depressive relapse or recurrence found that, just as maintenance antidepressant medication can prevent the recurrence of depression, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can also do the same (2). Another study on the effect of focused meditation training on depression and anxiety symptoms also found that meditation can effectively reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety (8).
Promotes body satisfaction
Continuous personal meditation is capable of increasing how satisfied people become of themselves. A study was conducted on women of different ages who suffered from body dissatisfaction. After a group among them was taken through self-comparison meditation training for three weeks, their body dissatisfaction reduced significantly while their self-comparison and body appreciation increased as well (7).
One of the proven benefits of mindfulness is the fact that it helps people to become more aware of themselves. In the process, they get to know who they truly are without basing their judgments on events happening around them. Through mindfulness, people gain clarity into their lives, and they can overcome anger, doubts, and fears while opening their minds to positive things that impact their overall view of life.
Tips on practicing mindfulness
It is worth noting that practicing mindfulness does not cost anything; an individual does not have to buy anything but devote a little time and space so that they can build the skills daily. Although in the beginning, a person cannot overrule the fact that their mind would definitely wander. It is possible to drift from the present moment to something that happened previously, some tasks that are yet to be done, and a host of other things.
When this happens, the person does not have to get unnecessarily troubled because it’s a process that takes time to master. The temptation to judge things will set in, especially when the person falls short of the requirements, but then, they need not do that. This is why mindfulness is a practice of returning to the breath repeatedly and reinforcing one’s ability to do it again. You may ask, “How do I start practicing mindfulness?” Below are some mindfulness meditation tips that should help you:
Take note of your thoughts and emotions
Paying attention to one’s thoughts and being non-judgmental helps a person to be more present. Simply pay attention to how your breath goes out and comes in. Feel the sensation and connect with it naturally. A study revealed that when people become mindful of their psychological functions or internal states, like their breaths, it can hone their abilities, including acceptance, working memory, and focusing attention (1).
Start small and increase the pace by the day
If you don’t have control over yourself yet, you don’t have to start mindfulness for a long time daily. The exciting part of this is that researchers have unveiled the benefits of practicing beautiful mindfulness. Research conducted on brief mindfulness meditation observed that it could improve the allocation of attentional resources in some novices (1).
Choose a convenient posture
There is no hard-and-fast rule on which posture an individual should maintain when it comes to practicing mindfulness. However, the sitting posture seems to be the most common. An individual may also decide to lie down or stand up. Anything that will support one’s level of alertness and promote ease when practicing mindfulness; that’s the most important thing. Once you try out a posture and it doesn’t work well for you, choose another until you find the perfect one.
Be alert to know when your mind wanders
As much as an individual tries to resist being carried away by other thoughts or happening around them, they will still fall prey to it when they’re starting. When that happens, all that is needed is to return the attention and continue the process.
Practice daily meditation
Many benefits can be derived from meditation, and among others, it increases a person’s level of inspiration, inner peace, happiness, and energy (6). A person doesn’t have to practice it for a long time in a day; about 5 to 10 minutes daily can positively impact an individual’s life and strengthen their mindfulness muscles.
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Tips for mindfulness at work
One of the challenges a person may be faced with at the workplace is managing several responsibilities simultaneously. This could range from reading and replying emails to trying to meet deadlines on critically urgent tasks and so on. Even when a person is supposed to be on lunch break, some other things may require attention, and all of these combine to increase workplace stress. Unfortunately, if all these are not well managed, it could end up making an individual become forgetful and reduce total attention, which consequently lowers the level of productivity.
A person may ask, “how can I improve my mindfulness at work?” It is worth noting that the purpose of mindfulness is not about trying to make the head stop thinking about things but paying close attention to one’s physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts to gain clarity. Therefore to increase an individual’s level of mindfulness at work, here are a few daily mindfulness tips that can help:
Work on a task at a time
Multitasking has a way of reducing a person’s level of productivity. In attempting different things at a time, the brain begins to switch back and forth, thereby losing valuable information in the process. On the other hand, by learning to do one thing at a time, a person becomes more effective and can also give what they’re doing at that time total concentration, which will make them feel more productive and fulfilled at the end. Working with a notepad or time journal won’t be a bad idea when looking for a way out.
Create a line of focus daily
One of the things that can help a person to be mindful at work is writing down things that they want to focus on for the day. The exciting part of this is that not only does it make them productive, it also helps them to maintain focus daily. Besides, they feel powerful, strong, proud, and in control. It also increases their capacity to tolerate pain, reduce unhelpful ruminations after going through a stressful experience, and enhance self-control. A person can stick those tasks on their computer or write it on a notepad. By doing so, they can detect the things that hinder their optimal productivity.
Practice conscious presence
The hallmark of mindfulness is learning to be aware and awake to things happening around you instead of operating out of unconscious states. When you’re at work, it is essential to acquaint yourself with the things going on within you and those going on around you. When you are on a task, there are possibilities that your mind will wander away. If those things happen, you need to acknowledge those thoughts and bring your attention back to what you’re doing at the moment. As you consciously work on this, you will begin to take charge of your present the more.
Acknowledge and accept things that cannot change
Mindfulness is all about accepting and appreciating the present moments the way it is. For things beyond a person’s reach or are impossible to change, it can be tempting to be judgmental about them. So, to practice mindfulness at work, a person must first accept the way things are even before making any attempts to change them. The underlying principle behind this is that anything a person does not accept, they will eventually deny their facts.
Apart from that, the person may become aggressive about them, which may ultimately affect their relationship with others and also make them lose motivation about things. A person needs to forget about things that did not work well, how bad their day started, those that wronged them, and all other negative things that may make them feel bad, and instead focus on what is happening at the moment. By doing this, they can direct their energy on the next line of action instead of clinging to what had happened in the past, which is irreversible.
Take time to meditate
What do you do when you are stressed out or when you feel aggressive? Research carried out from the University of Texas found out that bottling up emotions can increase a person’s aggression (6). As much as mindfulness is about tuning in to one’s thoughts, sometimes, a person’s mind needs to be clear for them to focus on really important things.
Whenever you feel stressed out, take a few minutes break and leave your desk to reset your mind. You may need to listen to a podcast or just sit outside and take fresh air before returning to work. With that, you’ll feel a sense of refreshment and full of vigor to continue your task. Something else you can do is to take a minute or two to surf the internet. Get on YouTube to watch puppy videos and do a few non-work related things that can entertain you before you go back to work.
Be physically present at meetings
It is almost impossible to go through an entire meeting without chatting online with a coworker, checking emails, or thinking about something else entirely. According to research, 91% of people that attend meetings spend the periods daydreaming, while 73% do other things during meetings, and 45% feel overwhelmed considering the number of meetings that they have attended. To practice mindfulness during meetings, it might be helpful to really listen when someone is talking and ensure a full presence in such a conversation. By all means, a person should avoid opening their laptop, picking their phones, or staring out through the window, but maintain eye contact with the person that is talking. At the end of a meeting, it might be helpful to spend a few minutes to recap the points that were discussed and clarify what to do next.
Mindfulness tips outside of meditation
Conscious awareness of what is happening within and around a person from moments to moments is what mindfulness is all about. The exciting thing is that it is possible to stop being conscious of the world around and focus on what is going on within. Mindfulness is about reconnecting with one’s body and feeling the sensations that it experiences. Through mindfulness, an individual can clearly see the moment, which can also affect how they see themselves and their lives.
Mindfulness and meditation go hand-in-hand, but then, the two are not the same. Practicing mindfulness outside of meditation helps the mind to come off discursive thoughts. By this, it becomes easy for the mind to pay less attention to what has happened in the past or what is about to happen, which may bring in stressful thoughts. Once that is achieved, it will be easier to focus on what is happening in the present moment, thereby relieving a person from stressful and habitual patterns.
When these stressful and arbitrary thought patterns are laid off the mind, making wise choices becomes easier. Through mindfulness, all mental clutters can easily be gotten rid of. Moreover, as a person becomes mindful of the present position, it becomes easier for them to become conscious of their reactive tendencies to pleasant and unpleasant experiences. As they take a conscious breath, they’re able to choose how to respond carefully and wisely.
When you don’t have time for meditation, there are still steps that you can take to become mindful. Some of these steps are explained below:
Focus on your breath
One of the easiest ways to become mindful is by paying attention to your breath. While you don’t have to sit in a place to meditate for some 30 minutes on your breath, you can do it on the go – anytime and anywhere. When on the waiting line, sitting at your desk in the office, doing laundry work, cooking, doing house chores, or whatever activity you engage yourself on, as long as those things do not take all of the attention, you can still practice mindfulness.
You can practice this in whatever position you have maintained that is convenient for you. Notice the way your breath feels, like the kind of air that comes in whether it is cool or warm; the rate at which you breathe, whether it is slow or quick; how your body naturally responds to the breath, whether your chest or belly rises, and how easy you find you find the breathing process.
As this goes on, don’t be judgemental. You’re not trying to change something or fix something; what you are just doing is a neutral observation. It’s possible that while this is going on, you start asking questions or appraise how things are going; don’t feel bad about that, just bring your thoughts back and keep monitoring your breath.
Practice the 5-4-3-2-1 principle
This is another way in which you could gain consciousness of the present. With this principle, you can become mindful of what your body is receiving from the surroundings through the engagement of your five senses. Engaging this principle is a way of pulling yourself out of a mental spiral into the present moment through the senses. To practice this, what you need to do is notice five things that your eyes can see around.
Depending on where you are, it could be the chairs in the living room, artwork on the wall, plates on the rack, the books on the shelf, the clothes on the hanger, and so on. After that, you should take note of four things that your ears can hear. It could be the noise of an opened door, the humming of a rotating fan, sounds from people talking, and all that. More so, look out for three things that can be felt with the body, two things that the nose can smell, and then, one thing that could be tasted with the tongue: the food that you are eating, the water you’re drinking, the gum you’re chewing, and so on.
Pay attention to what you notice and are aware of
You see, there is nothing that you have noticed and are aware of its presence that will not likely take your attention. The fact that you are aware of something means that you have started noticing it. Once you gain consciousness of your breath, it becomes apparent to pay more attention to it. In the same vein, you can pay attention to what you’re doing at the moment and feel the sensations behind them. For instance, if you’re washing dishes, you can pay attention to the sensations, smells, and textures. If doing laundry, you can focus on the fabrics, take notes of the different colors, etc. This helps you to practice mindfulness effectively.
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Mindfulness with kids at home tips
As much as adults can be mindful, children can be taught mindfulness too. The essence of the teaching is to help them gain the required skills to develop consciousness of their inner and outer experiences, understand the importance of emotions, and how to be more attentive. As they get acquainted with the dynamics of this essential skill, children can learn to be calmer whenever they are upset and also make sound decisions each time there is a need for it.
In training children’s mindfulness, the first thing a parent must do is to establish their practices, and during the process, their children can be brought into it. As much as possible, the process should be simplified for a child to understand. Then, in terms of expectations, the purpose of teaching them must be established. Having established important principles, the question you probably may be asking is, “how can I practice mindfulness with my child?” The processes are not burdensome; below are some tips for mindfulness that you can use to teach your children at home:
Use a breathing buddy to practice
It can be a bit challenging when you instruct a child to pay attention to their breath. To make things easier, you may have them lie down on their back and with a buddy placed on their belly. Make them focus their attention on how the stuffed animal rises and falls in response to their inward and outward breathing.
Walk with consciousness
You may choose to walk through the neighborhood with your child. Notice things that you haven’t seen before or set a moment in your walk time to be quiet and pay attention to sounds that each of you can hear.
Listen to sound
Another exciting way you can teach your children to practice mindfulness: let them pay attention to something they can hear. You could use a set of chimes, a bell, or even an app on your device that has a sound. Before making the sound, inform your children to pay close attention until the sound disappears. Of course, the sound should be as short as possible.
Use relatable things
Use different things that relate to their senses, which you can access at the moment to teach in practice. For instance, try to ask for things they can smell, see, feel, taste, and hear.
More importantly, you should not forget that, apart from making the practice fun and relaxing, you should also keep it as simple as possible.
Everyday mindfulness tips
As you go about your activities, there are some practical ways that you can increase your consciousness level. The following daily mindfulness tips should help you:
Be intentional about what you want to do for the day
Defining what you want to do for the day has its way of boosting your energy and motivating you to go about the day’s activities with a positive mindset. Through it, you can consciously connect your intentions with your actions at every point in time. When trying this step, once you wake up and before you set out for the day, ask yourself what your intentions for the day would be. Then, as you go about the day’s activities, pause and ask yourself if you are keeping up with what you already planned or not.
Practice active listening
Sometimes, we tend to listen to what people are saying when our minds have either drifted to something else or judged what we are hearing. Ensuring that you listen wholeheartedly should be part of your goals when you are in any conversation. As much as possible, avoid being judgmental and don’t be lost in thought.
Plan your activities around what you love
Everyone has something that they love to do, and doing them helps one connect within and move with vigor. Incorporate what you love to do into your weekly activities, and you will find it easier to connect.
Take a break in between actions
Don’t get too engrossed in the day’s activities to the point that you lose consciousness of what is happening around you. Take a moment to feel the weight of your body in your chair before starting the day’s activities. When your phone rings, don’t be quick to pick the call; try listening to the sound for a few seconds.
In conclusion, mindfulness practice helps people to be fully present and aware of who they are and what they’re doing. It shapes their focus on the present moment and also helps them appreciate what happens without being judgmental. Scientifically, the practice has some benefits. Considering the mindfulness tips that have been shared above, anyone hoping to practice it should find the process exciting and worth the effort.
Watch this relaxing meditation video to steer your mind away from the negative and not let your self-defeating inner dialogue dictate the rules.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Attention in Novices: Evidence From ERPs and Moderation by Neuroticism (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy compared with maintenance antidepressant treatment in the prevention of depressive relapse or recurrence (PREVENT): a randomised controlled trial (2015, thelancet.com)
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction as a Stress Management Intervention for Healthy Individuals: A Systematic Review (2014, journals.sagepub.com)
- Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Intervention: AConceptual and Empirical Review (2003, wisebrain.org)
- Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness, mindfulness, and inner strength (2019, health.harvard.edu)
- Psychologists find the meaning of aggression: ‘Monty Python’ scene helps research (2011, sciencedaily.com)
- Self-Compassion and Body Dissatisfaction in Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Meditation Intervention (2014, link.springer.com)
- The Effect of a Six-Week Focused Meditation Training on Depression and Anxiety Symptoms in Brazilian University Students With 6 and 12 Months of Follow-Up (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)