Every morning, I’m awakened by a distraction — my phone. Text messages I’ve yet to respond to, work emails, and social media are all at my fingertips. Then I hear my dog bark for his breakfast and the to-do list begins populating in my head before I’ve left bed. In a culture obsessed with doing, we often forget to just be. Mastering a few simple mindfulness tips can have powerful benefits, like reduced feelings of worry, overwhelm, and despair. I have learned a few key strategies from meditation gurus, therapists, and good friends that helped shape my method of well-being. It requires intention and time to reframe your perspective, but practicing mindfulness and feeling connected to the present moment can bring more balance to your life.
The breath is an anchor to mindfulness. Studies show that paying attention to your breath can help regulate the nervous system, which brings more calm and less reactivity. All you have to do is stop what you’re doing and pay attention to how you’re breathing. I like to do a simple meditation by counting my exhales, starting back at one after each count of three. This works for me because I can do it to clear my mind while walking my dog or even waiting in line for coffee.
For a quick reset, try inhaling to a count of four and exhaling to a count of six. Try it for just two minutes.
Another way to feel more connected with the present moment is to focus on the often ignored sensations within the body. While sitting at my computer during the workday, I periodically try to feel the sensation in my little toes. It’s hard to pay attention to intrusive thoughts in my head while trying to tune into small parts of the body, and it instantly makes me more aware of my breath.
To quiet an anxious mind before bed, do a mental body scan while lying down. Start at the top of your head, go into each fingertip, and down into your toes.
Studies show that routines bring a sense of peace to our life and decrease stress levels. Mindfulness can become a habit when you attach it to an existing daily ritual. For example, I like to start the morning with basic yoga stretches that help me feel connected to my breath and my body. I fit this practice into my a.m. routine after I feed my dog breakfast, but before I make coffee.
Try doing a five-minute meditation in the morning after you get out of the shower or try counting your breaths during your commute.
When I first began this exploration in mindfulness, a meditation teacher taught me a 12-minute breathing exercise and encouraged me to turn it into a habit by doing it every day for 28 days straight. At the same time, a friend of mine introduced me to the wonders of bullet journaling. I began regularly journaling to track progress toward my 28-day goal and found writing things down was a great way to hold myself accountable.
Try journaling daily — or even weekly — to check in with yourself and reflect on what is and isn’t working in your pursuit for presentness.
These mindfulness tips can bring an immediate sense of calm, but there will be times when you’re just not feeling it. That’s OK. No method will work perfectly every day. Remember that building a skill takes time, and be open to trying new things and adjusting your ritual as your life changes. For example, in the summer, I like to take advantage of the cooler morning weather to do an outdoor run before it gets too hot outside. That means I don’t have time to meditate. Instead, I make a point of being extra mindful during my run by focusing my thoughts on things that bring me gratitude.
For additional mindfulness tips, download Ashley Barron’s fitness app. Barron, a fitness and mindfulness coach, offers a mindfulness guide in her app, which includes journaling prompts, positive affirmations, inspirational quotes, and tips for manifesting the life you desire.
Change it up when things feel stale or no longer work with your lifestyle. Finding balance is a life-long process. Enjoy making it your own along the way.
About the author
Colleen is a digital marketing professional with over 10 years of experience in online media. After living in Los Angeles for five years, she moved back to her home state of Michigan where she currently works for a hiking and lifestyle shoe brand. When she's not enjoying the outdoors through running, hiking, or walking her dog, she loves spending time at the pottery studio or dreaming up travel plans with her partner.