What *exactly* is mindfulness?
Stress is a feeling that many of us are all too familiar with. That’s why we love winter break, isn’t it? Once you're home for the holidays, you finally get a much-needed break from all of the chaos and tension of busy days and sleepless nights. There's plenty of time to de-stress, unwind and prep for the upcoming new year, of course. To keep you stress-less all season long and help prepare you for 2017, we suggest trying out these easy mindfulness practices that you can do at home, at the mall while you're last-minute shopping or at your cousin's house on Christmas Eve.
To be mindful, you must be present and aware of the moment as it happens. By listening to your mind, your body and the surrounding environment, you are already one step closer to conquering mindfulness. As WebMD describes it, “your feelings aren’t good or bad”—your emotions simply exist. The reverse of mindfulness is autopilot, which occurs “when you do things without any thought or consideration.” Have you ever felt so stuck in a daily routine that you simply go through the motions, instead of actually living them? This is autopilot. During a long day at school, do you simply walk from one class period to the next and not actually think about what you are doing because you have done it so many times before? Autopilot strikes again.
Mindfulness aims for you to live with your autopilot turned off. When you are mindful, you think about the decisions you make as you make them and do not give in to choices you do not want to make. Let’s say you always ride the bus to school, but recently have been looking into becoming more active. If you are in autopilot, you might rush to the bus stop like every other morning, without much thought to the action. But, if you are mindful, you might purposely miss the bus and choose to jump on your bike to ride to school and burn some calories along the way instead. The great thing about mindfulness is that it doesn’t require any certain circumstances to happen. You can just do it.
Try “single-tasking,” as WebMD suggests. To do this, point all of your energy onto one thing you are doing and do not think about anything else in that moment.
Notice your senses and what they are experiencing. Perceive your senses, but remember not to pair them with positive or negative emotions.
Think about each part of your body separately in the moment. Limit yourself to only spotlight your mind on one part of your body at a time.
Know where it is in your body that you sense your breath.
Welcome your emotions into your mind, but be careful not to join them with pleasant or unpleasant descriptions.
With these exercises, you are on your way to a mindful state of being. Don’t forget: Mindfulness isn’t too hard to practice if you simply stay aware of what you are doing. Get in as much relaxation time as you can this winter, but also improve on your mindfulness. By the time you are heading back to school in January, you will be stress-free, full of focus and ready to tackle your resolutions.
Would you try mindfulness? Have you ever practiced any mindful behaviors before? Let us know in the comments!