How to be more mindful every day
We thought it would be nice to get some top tips from different experts in the field each month to help us all in our walks of life. We're starting off with the topic of MINDFULNESS. Chatting with our friend Lize Andrews who is a wife, new mum, clinical psychologist and runs her own practice with her brother on the Sunshine Coast. She's a little firecracker...
How can you increase your natural happiness and feelings of contentment? The short answer is: get out of your head and into your life!
The latest scientific advances show that incorporating mindfulness and mindful meditation into your everyday life really does reduce anxiety, stress, unhappiness and feelings of exhaustion. Doing regular mindful meditation even strengthens your immune system and thus helps you fight off illnesses.
Here are my top five tips on how to be more mindful in your daily life.
1. Do daily mindfulness exercises
Set 5 -10 minutes aside each day (with no distractions if possible) to do mindfulness meditation. You will be amazed at the peace and calmness that this can bring. For those who find it hard to sit still, you can use everyday activities such as doing the dishes, having a shower or even eating a meal to practice being mindful of the moment.
2. Let go of control
Mindfulness encourages us to have more self-compassion, to become more patient with ourselves and to nurture an open-minded attitude and gentle persistence. We tend to view internal events such as sadness or anxiety, as problems that need to be solved or fixed. Similar to swimming against a rip, the automatic behaviours we use to try and 'fix' these often makes it worse. Being mindful allows us the time and space to choose the best ways of solving these difficulties. When we acknowledge their existence (instead of suppressing), and let go of the habit to explain or get rid of it, then they are much more likely to dissipate naturally.
3. Get out of ‘autopilot’ mode
How many times have you driven to work, only to realise you paid no attention to the surroundings that passed you by? Break those automatic ways of thinking and acting. Breaking habits is not rocket science. It can be as simple as driving a different way to work or not checking facebook automatically on your mobile phone each evening. What does your ‘autopilot’ mode look like? Which unhelpful habits keep you from truly being present with the people you love?
4. Enrich your inner balance
Are you so busy doing everything that you have time for nothing? Identify those activities that nurture and those that deplete. When we are stressed and busy we often get caught up in the past, the future or in important life and career goals. Although these goals might be important and worthwhile, it can be very tempting to focus on them exclusively and neglect other important activities that fill your ‘health and well-being’ tanks. It's easy to tell yourself that being busy is just temporary in order to justify not making time for other things you love. The business can gradually deplete your inner resources. You can forget the reasons why you pursued certain goals in the first place. After a while this can leave you feeling physically and emotionally drained or exhausted. Instead of focusing so much on merely kicking goals in one area, clarify the values that drive your goals in all important areas of your life (such as health, relationships, work, spirituality and recreation). Find a balance by nurturing all the valued areas in your life.
5. Be in the moment
When people are under stress they tend to remember only the negative experiences that happened to them and it can be difficult to remember the good experiences. When you think about the future, stress can also make you think of the worst-case scenario. When you feel unhappy you may find it very difficult to look to the future optimistically. You can become lost in mental time travel. Here we re-live past events and pre-live future disasters which, in essence, our mind made up. As you navigate life, try to be truly present in the here and now. Slow down. Pause for a moment, close your eyes and smell the fresh air. Pay attention to what can you hear, feel, see and taste. Immerse yourself in that moment.
A wise man once said: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”