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For many of us, the sound of the alarm in the morning is just the first stressor of the day. It’s a jolt into a rushed morning and drive-through coffee before dropping the kids off. The rest of the day is a blur: answering a boatload of emails, racing to meet deadlines, running errands, picking up the kids, throwing together dinner, and calling it an early night in order to do it all again the next day.
Given all of these tasks and obligations pulling you multiple directions, it can be difficult to find even a single moment to breathe, let alone pull your thoughts together enough to relax. However, finding the ability to do so can make a significant positive difference in your ability to balance everything in life. Finding the time to be more mindful can actually make everything else seem like a breeze.
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment while acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Being more mindful is a therapeutic technique that enables people to be calmer, more relaxed, and appreciative. It can also help people process challenging emotions and communicate more effectively.
There are a number of relatively simple ways to become more mindful without giving up much of your precious time. Perhaps the easiest and most substantial way to start working on becoming more mindful is to practice deep breathing. By spending time focusing only on that, much of the other mental discourse will disappear, providing a much-needed mental break and relaxing moment.
Another means of practicing mindfulness is allowing your mind to wander. When in situations that do not require serious attention, such as walking the dog or brushing your teeth, try not to focus on any one thing. Instead, allow your thoughts to go where they will. Doing so can, over time, help the subconscious to naturally work through problems.
Finally, work on allowing there to be silence in your life. Allow there to be time every day where the radio, phone, and television are off — where no one is talking to you (or vice versa), and where there is natural lighting. Silence has a deep and powerful ability to calm the mind and fill the body with stillness that can have lasting benefits each day.
Mindfulness and Sleep
As you begin working more mindful activities into your life, one of the things you will begin to realize fairly quickly is the power of mindfulness and sleep. For many, the power of a nightly routine can be incredible for not only building greater mindfulness, but also finding a time to relax and begin shutting down for bed. Something as simple as brushing your teeth, washing your face, and taking your contacts out before bed can trigger a sleepy relaxation.
Some people also greatly benefit from mindfulness activities right before bed. This can include physical meditation or focusing on bodily awareness by actively relaxing certain parts of the body as you fall asleep. Journaling or documenting positive things each day can also be a great way to build a mindfulness routine before bed.
Sleep itself is another powerful tool for bringing greater mental and physical health into your life. Over the past few decades, being exhausted has largely been accepted and even glorified in our society; however, modern research indicates that this is having a profound negative impact. Adequate sleep is critical for conversion of information to memory, reducing stress and anxiety, maintaining physical health, and helping us make better decisions.
Bringing Mindfulness Into Your Life
Mindfulness can bring an array of powerful benefits into your life. And for the most part, it is a relatively easy practice that can be incorporated throughout the day. For instance, it very easy to use part of your lunch hour at work to focus on being present in the moment and accepting various thoughts and emotions that come to mind.
Practicing mindfulness can also help you to bring a greater level of focus to certain tasks where focus is essential. One example of this is while driving. Focusing on being a mindful and defensive driver can greatly reduce the number of serious accidents and make a difference to you and your family’s overall safety on the road. Considering the fact that distracted driving leads to thousands of deaths each year, practicing mindfulness while driving could even be a life saver.
Greater mindfulness during work can also impact your work performance in a positive way. For instance, a more mindful attitude may allow to you focus more on specific tasks while ignoring distractions. Furthermore, it can help to shed the drama of office life and redirect energy to things that really matter.
Becoming more mindful has a lot of really valuable benefits. There are a variety of ways to begin working mindfulness into your life, such as through deep breathing, silence, and building a nighttime routine. As mindfulness becomes a regular part of life, you may also find yourself more able to focus on the things that really matter in the long run.