Being mindful has become more of a trend in the past year or so. It basically means paying more attention to your actions and how they make you feel, even the things that may seem insignificant, like eating or walking to class. The emphasis is on being present in the moment and focusing on the thoughts and feelings that you experience. Being mindful is a great way to gain a better understanding of yourself as a person and how certain things affect you. Here are some ways that you can be mindful in your everyday life.
1. Eat meals without distractions
One of the most impactful ways you can be mindful is to eat meals without any distractions. That means no phone, no Netflix, and no podcasts. Think about the food that you are eating and how it is giving you the energy to continue your day. Taking the time to do nothing but focus on your meal and pay attention to how the food makes you feel can make every meal feel more nourishing. Not only that, but you will more easily notice when you are full, preventing overeating.
2. Listen to the world around you while walking to class
Usually when people walk to class they listen to music or a podcast through their headphones. A way that you can change this to practice mindfulness in the time between classes is to spend that time listening to the world around you. Observe the people walking past you and how the weather feels. Take in the way the world smells, feels, and sounds. This will help you be more present in the world around you, and you might notice things that you wouldn’t have noticed if you were on your phone or listening to music.
Meditation is something that a lot of people think is very difficult and inaccessible, but apps and community classes have made meditation a lot easier to practice. My personal favorite method is to use an app called Headspace. This app has meditations for every day that you can adjust the length of based on how long you have to spend on meditating that day. There are also mini meditations that you can do that are designed for certain situations or to help with certain things, such as sessions for commuting, anxiety, depression, and more.
4. Make time to spend time with yourself
Spend more time either at the beginning or the end of the day going through a routine that is focused on you and your body. Making your skincare routine mindful by doing it with no distractions and focusing on being present in the moment is a simple way to spend more time focusing on yourself and your body. It is important to schedule time into your day to spend doing nothing but taking care of your body in whatever way you need to, from painting your nails to doing the laundry you need to do, to even doing the dishes. Thinking about your intentions while doing these tasks and thinking about how they positively impact your daily life and your mental and/or physical health makes these simple tasks into an act of self care.
5. Listen to your body
It’s easy to get caught up in the fast-paced society that we live in and forget to pay attention to the signals that your body is giving you that you are missing something you need. It’s very tempting to pop a pill to take care of a headache without giving some thought as to where that headache is coming from, but a great way to use mindfulness to impact your health positively is to pay more attention to why your body feels the way that it does. Maybe you have a headache because you haven’t drank enough water today. Or maybe it’s caused by hunger, stress, lack of sleep, or because you missed a prescription medication that you take daily. It is still acceptable and encouraged to take medicine to fix a headache if you do not have the time to figure out the root of the problem, but if you recognize a trend in problems you can be more proactive in preventing them in the future.
It is also important to listen to your body when it tells you to eat, drink, and sleep. Although it sounds very basic, sometimes it is the thing that people overlook the most. Eating when you are hungry can prevent not eating enough, but it can also prevent overeating. Snacking mindlessly while watching Netflix isn’t great for your body, and eating only when you are hungry can help you have more energy and generally feel better.
Drinking water is very important and most people do not drink enough water for their body type and activity level. Keeping a water bottle on hand to make sure you are staying hydrated is important.
College is one of the biggest places where the need to sleep is ignored. As much as staying up late to finish a paper or binge-watch a new season of your favorite show sounds good, it does bad things to your health in the long run, and it’s important to pay attention to your body when you need to get to sleep.
6. Be an active listener
Mindfulness doesn’t always have to be a solitary practice. When you’re talking to a friend, focusing on listening to what they’re saying instead of waiting for your turn to talk is a great way to not only focus on being present in the conversation, but is a way to be a good friend. Ask questions about what your friend is talking about that are open-ended and show that you care, and allow them to talk about what they want to talk about until they ask you to talk.
7. Get rid of things that make you feel bad
Once you start practicing mindfulness on a regular basis, you’ll start to recognize things that don’t make you feel good in your everyday life. Maybe it’s a food you eat, the way one of your friends treats you, or the way a piece of clothing makes you feel. Once you recognize the things that make you feel less than great, you can work on either fixing those or eliminating them from your life. Minimalism is all about being present in the moment, focusing on how the things that you do make you feel, and ensuring that you aren’t doing things that make you feel bad. Incorporating all, or even some, of these practices into your everyday life will make you feel better in more ways than one.