Mindfulness is talked about everywhere so you’ll no doubt have heard of it. But, what does it really mean?
The organization ‘Mindful’ defines mindfulness as: “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
Mindfulness has so many benefits including reducing stress, improving your mood, helping you sleep better, and generally being great for both your physical and mental health.
Mindful living is all about making mindfulness a part of your daily life. Let’s take a look at 20 ways you can do that.
Mindful Living Tips
1. Set Aside Time for Daily Mindfulness
Research shows that regularly practicing mindfulness influences stress pathways in our brain. This literally changes our brain structure and the activity in our brains which helps with emotional regulation and focus.
This daily act of mindfulness doesn’t have to be 30 minutes at a time. Let’s face it, most of us have busy lives and setting aside so much time to sit in a quiet area each day is often unrealistic. Thankfully, even short sessions of mindfulness, for example, five or ten minutes at a time are proven to be effective.
There are lots of different types of mindfulness practice you can try, including meditation, guided visualization, and breathing exercises. If you’re new to mindfulness, take your time to experiment and see what feels right to you.
2. Make Everyday Tasks Mindful
Mindfulness isn’t always about practicing mindfulness ‘formally’ (meaning setting aside time to do a specific session of mindfulness). You can also make everyday tasks mindful.
When you’re doing a task during the day, really ground yourself in the present. Take your time to think about what you can see, hear, taste, smell, and feel.
You can make any task mindful, including mindful eating! You can check out our guide to mindful eating for more information.
3. Try Mindful Movement
You can also practice mindfulness through movement, which some people find suits them better than trying to sit quietly and be mindful. Mindful movement typically involves slow, flowing movements, often paired with breathing exercises.
Yoga and tai chi are common types of mindful movement that you’ve likely heard of. You can also make the exercise you’re already doing mindful by focusing on your senses. I really enjoy walking mindfully, really paying attention to what's around me and the sound of my feet as they make contact with the ground.
4. Be Present in the Moment
Life is busy and often fast: we’re often rushing around and trying to get things done, and we forget to appreciate the moment. You can try to be more present in the moment by simply slowing down when you’re able to and paying attention to what’s happening in the present.
5. Practice Acceptance
A big part of mindfulness is acceptance: acceptance of yourself, of your thoughts and feelings, and of your life.
The Greater Good Science Center explains that mindful acceptance is about paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judging them or feeling that there’s a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to think or feel.
When you find yourself judging your thoughts and feelings, or comparing them to how other people feel, try to stop this in its tracks. Instead, take a deep breath and focus on just accepting that this is how you feel and what you think.
Part of acceptance is understanding that not everything is perfect, but it doesn’t have to be for you to be happy. That’s a hard lesson to learn, but it allows you to be much more at peace.
6. Get out in Nature
There’s plenty of evidence that being out in nature can improve your mood and reduce stress. Studies show it can also help you to be more mindful and appreciate the world around you.
Try to make time to get out in nature as much as you can. Even if you live in a city, make use of the green spaces around you. Being out in nature is my happy place, it enriches my life and helps me to feel happier.
7. Practice Self Compassion
Evidence shows that self-compassion has many benefits, including greater happiness, less anxiety, better health, a deeper sense of wellbeing, and more resilience! Mindfulness and self-compassion go hand in hand, one enhancing the other.
I like to think of self-compassion as treating yourself in the same way as you would treat someone you love. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Encourage yourself and be patient with yourself when you make mistakes.
8. Practice Gratitude
There’s so much research that shows that practicing gratitude leads to greater happiness and wellbeing. Harvard Medical School explains that grateful people: “feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
Take time to be grateful for what you have in your life and really pay attention to those positives. I love the exercise of writing down three things you are grateful for each day before you go to bed: I find it helps to shift your mindset to thinking more positively.
9. Make Time for You
Try to set aside a little bit of time each day to practice self-care or do something you enjoy. Self-care refers to anything you do that helps to keep physically and mentally healthy, including eating well, doing things that make you happy, exercising, and practicing personal hygiene.
Mindful Living Tools
10. Try a Mindfulness App
Mindfulness apps are full of guided meditations and mindfulness sessions. They can be really useful, especially if you’re a beginner with mindfulness or simply prefer guided sessions.
11. Try a Mindfulness Course
Mindfulness courses are another great way to get started with mindfulness. You may be able to find some local courses to attend in person, or you can do an online course.
Online courses tend to be composed of lessons teaching you about mindfulness, as well as guided sessions and homework to do in your own time. The Be Mindful course is a paid option or this website has a great range of free courses.
12. Track Your Mood
Tracking your mood can help you to see patterns in your mood and identify things that might be causing you stress or sadness.
Once you’re aware of these triggers, you can work out how to deal with them, reducing stress and improving your mood over time. It can even help you to figure out when to practice mindfulness.
You can track your mood yourself, or you can use apps on your phone which make tracking easy. Moodkit is a mood tracking app based on Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) tools. Daylio is another great option.
13. Experiment With Essential Oils
Many people find that aromatherapy (meaning using essential oils for their health benefits) can help them to relax and unwind. You can utilize them during your mindfulness practices to help with grounding and relaxation.
14. Try Mindful Coloring
Mindful coloring can help to ground you in the present moment. It’s also just relaxing and fun! If you struggle to unwind unless you’re actively doing something, this can be a great option.
There are lots of types of mindful colouring books, so you can choose something that suits your personality. I like this one because of the variety of pattern types.
15. Read a Book About Mindfulness
Reading about mindfulness can be a great way to learn more about it. This book provides a variety of mindfulness meditations to try at home. Alternatively, you might prefer a book that’s more inspiring and uplifting like this one from the Dalai Lama among other authors.
16. Utilize a Sound Machine
A sound machine typically produces a variety of noises such as nature sounds and white noise. The idea of these sounds is to mask outside noise to help you relax.
17. Try Journalling
Professor Zindel Segal explains that journaling helps to get thoughts and feelings out of our head, which can allow us to process them and see them more clearly. He states that these thoughts: “may be experienced with less of an emotional charge than when they were only ‘in the head.’”
You could choose to journal in a blank journal, simply allowing yourself to express your thoughts on paper. If you prefer something more guided with prompts to help your writing flow, the Present, Not Perfect journal is a fun option.
18. Use a Meditation Pillow
A meditation pillow like this one is designed to help you feel more comfortable during your mediations. It can help to give you the proper posture and keep your spine straight while you’re meditating.
However, it’s important to remember that you don’t need any fancy equipment to get started with meditation. You can practice anywhere that’s quiet and comfortable for you.
19. Try a Mindfulness Workbook
A mindfulness workbook teaches you about mindfulness and guides you through a variety of mindfulness exercises. There are lots of types on the market, some of them focusing on specific types of mindfulness so take your time to figure out what’s best for you. This one is focused on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and is therapist recommended.
20. Try a Mindfulness Challenge
A fun way to insert more mindfulness into your life is to start a mindfulness challenge. Challenges give you one mindful task each day or week that you complete. You can find mindfulness challenges online like this 100-day challenge, or you can buy cute sets of cards like this 31-day challenge.
Make Mindful Living Work for You
In the end, mindful living is all about figuring out what works for you. By making changes that are realistic and sustainable, you’ll be able to get all the benefits of mindfulness in your life long term.