It’s getting to the end of the first term for teachers (some are already in half term), for everyone else we’re in autumn with only 10 weeks until Christmas, it’s definitely the time of year we start to feel run down and exhausted. Both friends and clients have spoken to me about feeling worn out this week, so this week I thought I would share how bringing mindfulness into everyday life can help minimise the effects of exhaustion as well as helping us conserve energy. People may believe that by bringing mindfulness into everyday life everything becomes slower and more long winded but this is not necessarily the case, for example if your read a book while, listening to the telly and playing on your phone, you’ll find yourself re-reading the same paragraph over again but if you read mindfully this is unlikely to occur.
Benefits of mindfulness:
When we engage more with our surroundings we are able to be more present and experience life more fully.
Communication becomes easier leading to more positive relationships.
Being more present helps us to reduce mistakes.
We’re able to make better life choices by being more mindful.
We become less reactive.
How can we bring mindfulness into our daily lives:
There are different points in the day that are more suited to mindfulness than other, some examples are listed below and we will talk about each in a little more detail.
Getting ready for bed
Getting up routines
How we start our mornings can set the tone for the rest of the day, personally I’m guilty of starting my day on my phone scrolling though news and gossip. While I then used to move on to dragging myself out of bed and going thought my routine half asleep until I realised I was running late and rush to get out of the house, however since the beginning of this year I’ve been working on becoming more mindful in my routine. Yes, I do still wake up and have a quick scroll but I now have a set routine at is a lot more mindful. Firstly you need to have a routine that works best for you, you then need to implement it daily and mindfully.
Ask yourself two questions: How do you want to feel in the morning? and how much time can you dedicate to your morning routine without feeling rushed?
Once you have consider these questions you can start to build a mindful morning routine. Some activities you might consider are; practicing gratitude, setting an intention, praying, exercise, drink tea/coffee/water, listen to music, dance, plan your day. You don’t need to do all these things (or any of them) but you need to pick a few and do them mindfully.
Evenings can often be a time we throw dinner in the oven, run around sorting out housework, entertain the kids, before collapsing on the sofa in front of the TV with a pile of work. None of these things are bad and all are necessary but does this make for a mindful, calm evening? A good evening routine needs to include elements that prepare us for a restful sleep in both mind and body. Some of the activities we discussed in our morning routine can be adapted for evenings and some other activities we will discuss may come in here but some activities you might consider incorporating are; planning for the next day, soothing exercise like yoga, herbal tea or milk, relaxing music, a hobby.
A lot of people can have difficult relationships with food whether it’s comfort eating, fad diets or something more serious. Often we eat on the go or while we’re doing something else, how often do we stop to think about what we’re eating and enjoy the sensation?
To practice mindful eating:
Avoid distractions and focus only on your meal.
Take time to look at your food, smell your food, be grateful for your food.
Enjoy your first bite, pay attention to the different textures and tastes.
Through the meal be aware of each bite.
Be aware of signals from your body letting you know when your full.
Mindful eating has been shown to aid weight loss, improve digestion and help us make healthier food choices.
To do this you consider every aspect of the process:
Undress intentionally placing your clothes rather than just dumping them on the floor.
Consider your senses, what can you do to stimulate your smell, touch and sight.
Play some relaxing music or ambient sound.
Be attentive to each part of the body as you clean it.
Take time to enjoy drying and moisturising in the same way you enjoyed the washing experience.
Use this as a time to feel love for your body.
The daily commute can often be stressful and can effect the rest of our day but it is possible to turn this into a mindfulness experience.
Use it as a time to become aware of your breath, surroundings or thoughts.
If your a passenger use it as a time for a guided meditation.
Again if you’re a passenger take time to close your eye and carry out a body scan.
Vary your commute and take time to notice the different surroundings.
When you focus on your thoughts and emotion rather than the events of the day journaling can be a mindful practice. Allowing space to reflect on, interrogate and write down our thoughts and feelings helps us to observe them without judgement and more easily release them.
Every day we engage in conversations but we don’t always listen activity. To actively listen we need to engage in 3 characteristics: awareness/attention of what’s being said, being fully present, non-judgement/compassion. These can be manifested in different ways for example cutting out other distractions, repeating back what has been said to demonstrate understanding, give appropriate eye contact, avoid interrupting or jumping in.