Mindfulness, and in particular, mindfulness meditation has increasingly been touted and implemented as a way of improving our mental well-being.
Its focus on connecting our body and mind to become more self-aware and present has been evidenced to help reduce our everyday stress and anxiety.
[RELATED: Being Mindful – Is mindfulness for you?]
But mindfulness stretches in its helpfulness far beyond reducing stress and anxiety. In short it’s a really powerful tool that can help you in multiple ways every single day. All gained from very short but regular practices. Plus to top it all off – it’s quick and completely free!
Yes we can all benefit from practising mindfulness in everyday life and here are just 5 of the useful ways it can help…
Sleep (and getting enough of it) is a critical component of our every day. Lack of sleep negatively affects us both physically and mentally. Ensuring a good night’s sleep is of the upmost importance. But that’s often easier said than done.
How often have you taken your tired body to bed only for your mind to kick into over-drive? Thoughts of what’s been, thoughts of what’s to come. Did your brain not get the time for sleep memo?
This is where practising mindfulness can help. Practised for a few minutes before bed it signals to your brain it’s time to draw a line under your day. It helps to calm and settle you ready for sleep.
I personally find it really helpful if I happen to wake in the middle of the night and my mind switches on. Laying there worrying or overthinking doesn’t help to send you back to sleep. It also doesn’t help when you start stressing about the fact that you can’t sleep!
Starting the mindfulness practice, closing your eyes, breathing, grounding etc. helps to settle you back into slumber – although I’ve lost count of the times it’s just sent me straight to sleep again.
OK I’ll confess – I’m a comfort eater. I know this because whenever I’m stressed or in need of well, comfort – I reach for the doughnuts. Mindfulness (although it can’t physically stop you entering the Krispy Kreme store) can help improve your diet in a number of ways.
Firstly, if you’re a comfort eater like me, it makes you more aware of your emotional connection to food. You begin to challenge why you’re eating what you are and opens up different (often healthier) alternatives. For example, if my regular thought of cake please! enters my head, I become self-aware enough to question why. If the answer is say, boredom, I then have the option to make a better choice to combat it, such as call a friend.
Mindfulness also ensures you don’t waste calories. How many times have you eaten an entire meal and not even really realised it? And even though you’ve eaten, how often are you still pretty hungry afterwards? Mindfulness makes you pay attention to the food you’re eating. Focusing your attention on smell, taste, texture, chewing, ultimately makes food more of an event. Studies have shown this helps your brain to realise more accurately when hunger has been satisfied.
Whilst mindfulness isn’t a diet, it’s a useful strategy to improve your everyday eating and make your experience of food more enjoyable.
03. Working smarter!
Businesses are increasingly making mindfulness a daily way of operating for their employees. Why? Well, aside from helping to manage stress and anxiety within the work place, it has been proven to help increase productivity and improve the quality of the employees’ output.
Employees who are able to focus fully on tasks are able to work faster and identify more creative solutions.
When minds aren’t overcrowded with a million other things, they’re free to explore possibilities and increase confidence in pushing them forward.
[Looking for more ways to increase workplace well-being? Read: Blooming Lovely: the positive power of flowers]
Practising mindfulness helps to increase collaboration both internally and externally making for better business relationships and thereby better business performance.
Aside from industry, everyone can benefit from greater focus, positivity and creativity. Think how much time you could save, how much more meaningful your interactions could be and how simpler solving challenges could become.
Alright, I accept, often when we exercise, our attention can be drawn to the clock, or the multiple things we could be doing. Plus, we’re grateful for the distraction away from the physical exertion we’re currently experiencing – but practising mindfulness whilst exercising helps to get the most out any workout.
Since I start mindfully running, I’ve noticed a good improvement in the overall quality of my run. I concentrate on the elements of the run that serve me the best. Namely, my breathing and stride. They help anchor my focus whilst also keeping my inner negative self-talker in check. At the end I’m more aware of the workout, but in a good way. I’m much more able to appreciate all of the effort I made.
It never hurts for you to be fully aware of your exercise efforts. Exercising is a form of self-love (even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment) and that mindful acknowledgement that you’re worth the time and investment in your self only serves to strengthen your level of self-worth in other areas of your life too.
Mindfulness is great for relationships. Regular practice helps to develop a more calmer, patient mindset. You improve your listening skills and learn to express yourself more clearly.
Through practising mindfulness your relationship with stressful situations alters. Therefore when stress pops up in your relations with others, you are better placed to respond well. You’ll be able to handle the difficult conversations better, and communicate your emotions in a relatable way.
[Need to overcome a conflictive relationship? Read: From foe to friend: overcoming conflict in relationships]
Mindfulness increases your ability to note your emotions and experiences without judgement. As you learn to remove judgement from your own experiences, you’ll gain greater empathy for those around you. Not to mention you’ll also be better at giving more focused, quality attention to your loved ones.
Mindfulness in everyday life and beyond…
Mindfulness and the discovery of its full benefits are still in their infancy. However, to believe it can only benefit anxiety and stress seriously sells the practice short. If nothing else, it provides opportunity to make you more aware and take the necessary actions to ensure you experience everyday life in a more happier and calmer way.
To find out more about mindfulness and how to start practising it, you may want to read: Being Mindful – Is mindfulness for you?
Additionally you may find the NHS mindfulness page helpful for getting you started in implementing mindfulness in everyday life.
Want to further increase your well-being? Read:
Do you practice mindfulness? Did you realise how it can be applied in multiple ways and the benefits of applying mindfulness in everyday life? What other ways have you used it to improve your everyday? Is there something specific you’re hoping to accomplish? How about checking whether mindfulness can help? Get in touch using the comment box below – I always love to hear from you!