You have probably heard by now that mindfulness can help you reduce anxiety and increase your ability to manage stress. But if you are feeling stressed and anxious, the prospect of learning a new practice and finding time to fit something else into your life probably feels overwhelming!
Fortunately, you don’t need to set aside an hour, 30 minutes, or even 10 minutes a day to reap the benefits of mindfulness. Practicing informally, in the actual context of your life, may even be more helpful for anxiety than formal mediation.
Here are 3 easy ways to incorporate mindfulness practice into your day:
- Notice your breath.
There is no need to change or direct your breath in any way; simply bring your awareness to the breath. Notice where in your body you can most easily feel the physical sensations of the breath: the rise and fall of the chest? Of the belly? The movement of the air at the tip of the nose or through the nostrils? Designate cues in your day, such as your phone’s notification sound or encountering a red light, to remind you to take a conscious breath in and a conscious breath out.
- Pick a part of your morning routine and aim to be present in it.
Just one little piece, such as brushing your teeth, making coffee, getting dressed. For the couple of minutes of your chosen activity, pay attention to the physical experience you are having. What are you are seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting? Bring your awareness back again and again to the sensations of your present moment experience. When you get distracted, you are not doing it wrong! It is the wandering of your mind that gives you the opportunity to bring it back, and that is where the good stuff happens. Each time you bring that awareness back to your present moment experience, you are strengthening your ability to choose where to place your attention rather than feeling hijacked by racing thoughts or overwhelming emotions.
- Find your grounding.
When you stand up, bring awareness to the contact of your feet on the ground. Can you feel the balls of the feet, the heels, the outside and inside edges of the feet, your toes? When you sit down, notice the points of contact: your butt, your back, your legs, your feet. Attend to the experience in your body of being held to the earth by gravity. While you are walking from point A to point B, notice the sensations of your steps. Check in with your grounding when transitioning between walking, standing, and sitting.
Experiment with these informal techniques of cultivating mindfulness for yourself. Allow yourself to be in process rather than focusing on doing it all the time or doing it perfectly. Shifting from living in your head to being present in your body is a big deal, and it is the key to the freedom you want!