Three easy ways to add mindfulness to a busy day

Often feel overworked and stressed? Are are three easy ways to add mindfulness to a busy day.

Mindfulness is an ancient type of meditation that can teach you to be wholly present in the moment, sensing and feeling everything that you are doing and experiencing, without judgment or interpretation. This practice includes various exercises to relax the body and mind.

In moments when you feel like you can’t stop what is happening, when you have a frustrating conversation with a coworker, or when that email pushes you over the edge, mindfulness can be a lifesaver. From checking your email to eating your lunch, here are a few real scenarios where mindfulness can really help you.

1) Give your phone a break first thing

About two-thirds of Americans sleep with their smartphones. Many of us like to check our phones first thing in the morning. Scrolling through your social media feeds may be a fun way to wake up your groggy mind, but it won’t do you any good in the long run.

One study has found that the body releases the most stress hormones soon after we wake up. Considering that many of us start the day thinking about how much work we have to do, the exams we have to prepare for, the meetings we have to attend, this doesn’t come as a surprise.

By giving your mind the space and silence to process the day ahead, you can reduce this emotional response. Instead of bombarding yourself with emails and social media when you wake up, leave your smartphone on the nightstand.

While laying in bed, try to pay attention to your breathing and nothing else. Relax for a few minutes, let intrusive thoughts about the day pass by, and return to your breath.

2) Commute in silence

In 2018, the average American worker spent 225 hours commuting. Without a doubt, commuting can increase anxiety. However, mindfulness can help you keep your cool when you’re in an overcrowded subway station or when you’re stuck in traffic.

Don’t turn on the radio as soon as you start your car. Instead, focus on what it’s like to be in the car in silence.

For the first ten minutes of your drive, pay attention to the physical experience of driving: your hands on the steering wheel, your foot on the gas pedal, your posture, etc. Pause and take a deep breath each time you brake at a red light or stop sign.

3) Avoid mindless browsing at work

Most of us do the same thing when we’re bored at work – browse the internet. We do this on autopilot. One moment you’re unmotivated and tired and the next one you’re on Reddit looking at photos of cute kittens.

The internet may temporarily entertain us while we’re at work, but it also prevents us from being in the moment. Instead of addressing our emotions, we automatically seek ways to cover up a lack of interest or moments of stress with distractions.

You can use browser extensions such as Momentum to put an end to this automatic behavior. This add-on replaces the new-tab feature that shows your most visited sites with a personal dashboard that is designed to inspire focus and calm.

For instance, it may prompt you to answer questions such as, “What’s your main focus for today?” This simple question will prevent you from automatically jumping to Twitter or Quora by encouraging you to focus on your intention for the day.

Mindfulness can help you set intentions, be aware, and get the most out of meetings. Before diving into a presentation, state the intentions for your time together.

For instance, you can share the end goal in addition to the agenda you’ll discuss. You can start by saying something along the lines of, “We’ll be exploring topics A, B, C to help our manager decide on X.” When you are done, set aside five minutes to recap what you discussed and to clarify the next steps.

When it’s time for a break, step away from the desk, go outside, and re-energize. Avoid eating in your car, in front of your laptop, or at your desk. Find a spot where you can focus your energy on your lunch.

Instead of scarfing down your lunch in a matter of minutes, slow down and really taste your food. Listen to your body and eat until you’re satisfied; stop eating when you’re full.

Keep the mindfulness alive

Practicing mindfulness when you’re super busy and stressed may be more helpful than doing it while you’re drinking hot chocolate in your cozy living room. But you shouldn’t stop with mindful thinking as soon as you leave the office for the day or close your laptop.

The best time to sharpen these skills is when you’re calm and stress-free. Besides, you may not have the luxury of time to hone your mindfulness skills while you are at work.

You can try mindfulness therapy programs such as Core Process Psychotherapy or MBCT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy). Such therapies are a great way to learn how to slow down harmful automatic processes.

Being in the moment is a skill that is learned, a skill that can be improved upon. If you are having trouble practicing mindfulness when you need it the most, learning mindfulness techniques in a relaxed environment is a good place to start.

Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle.

Photo by Samantha Gades