Nowadays, we are also more reachable than ever, making us less likely to switch off when we need to. As a result, mindfulness has never been more important. Not only that but we are also working/studying longer hours too, and technology has made us more reachable. This has resulted in work-life balance being something that we struggle to manage properly.
Mindfulness is describes as a moment-to-moment awareness of our feelings, thoughts and sensations.
Try sitting and emptying your mind for more than 5 minutes… it is much harder than you would think.
I used to think mindfulness meant sitting down on your bed, sitting cross-legged and meditating. And then that left me thinking.. ‘I don’t have time for that’.
However, recently, after doing more research into mindfulness and what it actually entails, I’ve come to discover that mindfulness can actually be practised at any time of the day, and does not need to take more than 10 minutes.
Before you start your day
Do you wake up in the morning to thoughts of the day ahead and the mile-long list of things that need to get done?
I used to, and sometimes still do. These morning thoughts trigger stress levels easily, so becoming more mindful before you even get up is a good place to start.
Instead of pressing snooooooze and actually snoozing in the morning, try to make a conscious effort to actually wake yourself up and focus on your solely your breathing for 2 minutes. Spend those 2 minutes blocking out everything else, and focus back to your breathing again when your mind starts to wander.
When you arrive
If you drive to work/college, why not take a few minutes to just sit in your car, put your phone on silent, switch off the engine and radio and just sit there in the moment.
Close your eyes, again focusing on your breathing. Be present and aware of your surroundings, your feelings and your senses.
If you use public transport, spend the last 5-10 minutes of the journey doing the same.
If you walk, like me, use that time to be present. Don’t walk the whole way with your music blaring or the radio on. Switch off for 5 minutes, observe your surrounding and focus on your mind.
At any stage if your mind begin to wander, just bring it back to focusing on your breathing.
Throughout the day
If throughout the day you find yourself getting distracted, or having a mini meltdown moment, or getting stressed, maybe its time for a mini meditation break.
This doesn’t mean having to close your eyes at your desk or in the library, you just need to take a few minutes to acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, breathing and surroundings.
Even just one minute of mindfulness can calm and refocus the mind. And can be helpful in rescuing you from having a very stressful moment.
The process of focusing your mind on your breathing and body relaxes the nervous system and tones down your stress responses.
This one might be the toughest to put into practice.
How often do we actually take a full lunch break away from our desks and libraries?
Eating should not be a mindless task, and skipping your lunch or working/studying through it can actually make you less productive.
Even if you cannot spare the full hour, take your food away from the desk, or take a short walk around the block. This will keep your stress levels at bay.
At the end of the day
At the end of the day, my best piece of advice for you would be take inspiration from my favourite movie Frozen and ‘LET IT GO’.
Not letting go of your stresses will affect your quality of sleep, and eat into your unwinding time, which lowers your energy levels for the next day.
This is one of the hardest parts of mindfulness because your head is probably full of so many thoughts from your day. It also could take the longest.
Dedicate this to the commute home, be it in your car or public transport or walking. But make yourself present and be aware for as long as possible. Be mindful of the sounds and your surroundings.
Make yourself aware of your breathing.
And if you can spare those extra 10 minutes when you get home to sit cross-legged on the bed with your eyes closed, then all the better.