The concept of mindfulness has become a staple in modern holistic wellness. It is the practice of purposefully focusing one's attention on the present moment, and it offers a plethora of health benefits, including reduced stress, improved attention, and increased emotional intelligence⁽¹⁾. This is something I have personally struggled with being a busy mom, wife and entrepreneur - there's always something to do and something to think about!
Recently, during a functional neurology lecture, I was reminded that neurological exhaustion is very real. Do you ever fall asleep easily in a warm car, while scrolling on your phone or watching TV? This is a classic sign that your brain needs to take a break and have a moment to process and heal.
With the frantic pace of today's world, finding moments of stillness might seem like an unattainable goal. Yet, weaving mindfulness seamlessly into your daily routine is simpler than it appears. Here are some actionable steps to help you achieve it.
Begin Your Day with a Mindful Morning Ritual
Starting your day with intention can create a foundation of mindfulness that lasts throughout the day. A 2022 study found that morning rituals and routines could lead to improved mood and cognitive performance⁽²⁾. Simple practices like mindful breathing, gratitude journaling, or even taking a moment to savor your morning coffee (after a high-protein breakfast!) can set a positive tone for the day.
Most families try to quickly fit in their meals and many people have been trained to eat quickly due to our restaurant culture. Mindful eating is about savoring every bite and being fully present during meals. This is more difficult than it sounds! Harvard Medical School suggests that this practice can aid in weight management and help with eating disorders⁽³⁾. Try turning off distractions like the TV and truly experience the flavors, textures, and sensations of your food.
Take 'Mindfulness Breaks' Throughout the Day
Rather than waiting for stress to accumulate, proactively take short breaks. Even a brief pause for deep breathing or grounding exercises can be impactful. A 2013 study concluded that mindfulness brings about various positive psychological effects, including increased subjective well-being, reduced emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation⁽⁴⁾.
Engage in Mindful Movement
You don't need to commit to a full yoga session to enjoy the benefits of mindful movement. Even taking a five-minute stretch break or practicing tai chi can be a transformative experience. A study in Journal of American College Health (2010) showed that individuals who engaged in mindful movement had better mood and lower levels of anxiety⁽⁵⁾.
Practice Mindful Listening
In this era of endless distractions, active and mindful listening is a lost art. When in conversation, strive to be fully present. Listen without forming responses in your mind. Not only will this deepen your relationships, but it will also enhance your understanding and empathy towards others.
Mindfulness is more than a buzzword; it's a journey of embracing every moment, no matter how mundane. By integrating these practices into your daily routine, you not only enhance your individual well-being but also contribute to a more present and compassionate world.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. Hyperion.
University of Pittsburgh. "Older adults with regular activity routines are happier and do better on cognitive tests, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2022.
Harvard Health Publishing (2011). Mindful Eating. Harvard Medical School.
Keng, S.-L., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies. Clin Psychol Rev, 31(6), 1041–1056.
Caldwell, K., Harrison, M., Adams, M., Quin, R. H., & Greeson, J. (2010). Developing mindfulness in college students through movement-based courses: Effects on self-regulatory self-efficacy, mood, stress, and sleep quality. Journal of American College Health, 58(5), 433-442.