Mind Full or Mindful? 6 Ways to Practice Mindfulness

 Let's face it, life can be pretty overwhelming at times. It can leave us stressed out, anxious, and downright exhausted. Sometimes its so overwhelming that we forget to stop and take a second to just breathe and be present in the moment.

     Mindfulness is the ability to be fully attentive to the present moment. It is crucial to your mental health to be mindful because of how busy and stressed out our society is nowadays. By being mindful, we can learn to be present and aware of our surroundings so we aren't walking around like robots everyday, simply just going through the motions. 

     So if you are a busy bee, or just want to learn how to take the time during your day to calm down and de-stress, here's a list of ways to practice mindfulness. Hopefully you will be able to see a difference in not only your mind, but your overall attitude and appearance as well!

1. Work on Bettering Your Posture. I personally have always suffered from bad posture. In my opinion, your posture has a huge effect on your overall mindset and appearance. I always notice after I sit up or stand up straight, there is a visible difference in my walk or just in how I feel. I feel like I appear more confident on the outside, and I walk with more of a bounce in my step, like I am walking with a purpose. This exercise shows that even something simple like our posture can affect us in either a positive or negative way. With bad posture, it can cause you to succumb to all the tiredness and stress in your life. But with good posture, you will automatically feel more confident and ready to face your day, while also being more aware of your surroundings. And don't forget, having good posture also helps you breathe better!

2. Focus on Breathing. Inhale…exhale. Take a few minutes out of your day and use it for personal meditation. Now, I have never been one to take time out of my schedule to meditate, but I've learned over time that it actually helps. You don't need to picture it as sitting cross-legged on a yoga mat going "Ommm" over and over again. It can be as simple as pausing whatever you're doing for a few minutes to calm yourself down with breathing in and out. Close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and try not to think of anything else. This is an exercise that you can really benefit from. At first, it will probably be difficult for you to sit still and not think about anything. You probably will. However, the more you do it and the more you make time for it in your schedule, the more it will start to work. I learned that I am never too busy to take a few minutes to myself and just relax. By taking a few minutes to just sit and breathe, I can escape the craziness of the day for a little while and regroup, and then go back to my day with a clear mind. Since I would go back to the rest of my day feeling calmer, it allowed me to process things more rationally when faced with a conflict.

3. Give Someone a Compliment. This one may sound a bit random, but it really helps in being mindful. Go out of your way to give compliments to friends, family, co-workers, and random strangers. It will make you feel happier and overall, make your day a little better. It is so nice to see a smile on someone else's face, and you might actually start having conversations with people that you wouldn't normally before. It will make you more present and aware of others around you, and not stuck in your own head.

4. Mindful Walking. Oftentimes, I get stuck in that constant on-the-go mentality and I don't bother to pay attention to anything else going on around me. Do you ever walk to work or class and ask yourself things like, "What are we doing in class today? I hope I did my assignment right. When is the next paper due? I still have to do x, y, and z afterwards." Instead of overwhelming yourself with all these thoughts, focus more on your surroundings as you walk. Everyday, I see people walk passed me staring at their phones. Next time you're walking somewhere, put your phone in your pocket and take in your surroundings. Enjoy the weather and appreciate the details around you. It allows you to be present and enjoy all of your surroundings instead of having your eyes glued to a tiny screen and being stressed out by other thoughts.

5. Practice Active Listening. Try your best to stop multitasking while someone is telling you something. I am always guilty of this. I will be sitting in the car with someone and they will be telling me a story, and I will be scrolling through my phone while trying to listen to them at the same time. There are certain times when I completely miss what they said to me, and I’ll respond with, “Oh, wow, that’s crazy,” even though I have no idea what they just said. I think actively listening goes hand in hand with being mindful because it is key to understanding another person’s point of view, especially when you are faced with a conflict with that person. There's a difference between hearing and listening, and any person who is mindful should know how to fully listen and comprehend what is being said to them.

6. Cut Out Technology. Let’s face it, it’s almost impossible in this day and age to completely cut out technology altogether. However, a good way to practice mindfulness is to take one hour per day to disconnect from the technology/social media world. You will notice a huge difference when you aren't constantly getting swept up in what's happening on your phone or computer and you are actually taking the time to focus on what's happening in real life.

So no matter what you are doing, you should always take the time out of your day to de-stress and just breathe. So next time you're feeling overwhelmed with life, try to be mindful! Because nobody deserves to feel like they can't handle it.