Are you feeling a low mood this time of year? Are you feeling anxious and overwhelmed by school, work, finances, or just life in general?
Mindfulness has been proven to help people feel happier, more content, and can help with symptoms of anxiety and depression, along with other mood disorders.
Mindfulness has become increasingly popular over the past decade, yet it’s origins stem back to Buddhist teachings over 2,500 years ago. I don’t know about you, but I am going to bet that it’s still around today because it works!
Yoga is perhaps the most common and accepted form of mindfulness practice, which also finds its origins in the Buddhist culture. If you’ve ever tried yoga, you’ll probably remember being told to focus on your breathing and to leave your plans for the day outside of the room so you can focus on the present moment. And you will probably also recall this being very challenging!
The strategies you learn in yoga are elements of mindfulness, but you don’t have to join a yoga studio or dedicate hours and hours of your life to meditation in order to reap the benefits.
Mindfulness can seem complicated, but it really isn’t. It is simply the process of focusing your attention onto the present moment, which naturally draws you away from the thoughts and feelings that are causing you worry, stress, fear, doubt, discontent, sadness, or whatever it may be. And just like anything, the more you practice, it the easier it will come.
3 simple ways to practice mindfulness for 10 minutes a day:
1. Go for a Walk
Walk for 10 minutes on your lunch break or before or after work and continuously notice your surroundings. Look at the tree branches in front of you. Notice the curve of the path you are on or the cracks in the pavement. When you experience a thought drift into your head about the work you need to do later or what to make for dinner, notice it, but re-shift your focus back onto to items in your current environment.
2. Scan your Body
Body scanning is another simple way you can practice mindfulness. Take 10 minutes to sit in a quiet place and close your eyes. Visualize your feet relaxing, and then move up to your ankles, then your shins and knees. Do this all the way up your body. Take your time to notice each part. By the time you get up to your neck and face, you should feel more present, calm, relaxed, and in control. Many people who have trouble falling asleep use this exercise.
3. Notice Sensations
Noticing Sensationsis a particularly useful strategy on a situational basis, when you are needed immediate calming and re-centering. It involves using your senses to restore the present moment. First, notice something you can hear, and listen to it for a few moments. Second, notice something you can touch. Touch it and pay attention to how it feels. Notice something you can smell. A rubber band, someone’s cooking down the hall, is the air fresh, or stale? Hot or cold? Next, what do you see when you look around the room? Notice two items and examine them one after another. Once you have done this, you will hopefully feel calmer and less consumed by your emotions.
Remember, you can have control over how you feel, even though it may not seem like it at times. Mindfulness can help.
Additional resources on Mindfulness:
Mindfulness Animated in 3 Minutes