Have you ever experienced days when unexpected changes in your routine lead to distressing events, with consequent overreactions from your side resulting in unwanted outcomes?
Most of the time, this occurs when we are stressed out by multiple activities and are trying to keep up increasing our pace. Our society becomes increasingly faster, but humans are not structured to live this way; this results in the brain taking short breaks, making us act by default more often than it would in a non-stressful environment.
The good news is that while society keeps pushing you don't need to stay stuck in those patterns.
Rewiring Your Brain with Mindfulness
Most of our daily actions are performed by default; we don't think about what we do and do things automatically. Default is a natural feature of the brain, and it has its purpose, but when the brain is stressed, being on default may become a habit promoting worrying and ruminating, strengthening our negative inner voice.
Deciding to become more mindful and reducing stress is a conscious choice. Making small lifestyle changes and taking a few minutes for mindfulness daily can significantly change the course of your everyday experience.
Just when you feel you have no time to relax,
know this is the moment you most need to relax.
Introducing Mindful Practices into Your Routine
The essential tools to live mindfully include mindful presence, breathing, meditation and yoga. For some, these may sound like fancy ways to dismiss our inability to face challenges. Fortunately, you don't have to do them all, just adding one mindfulness exercise will show you the difference. Researchers have conducted several studies on the benefits of mindfulness in the last twenty years. These studies can be easily found online, along with interesting TED talks or YouTube videos explaining the advantages of living mindfully. Mindfulness is about staying in the present and observing yourself, your thoughts and feelings with curiosity and without judgment.
Regular practice allows us to remain present with uncomfortable feelings and thoughts, reducing their influence on our mood and improving the mind-body connection.
Starting Your Day with Purpose
Instead of starting your day mindlessly, begin with intention; explore what your mind and body want.
Find a comfortable spot, close your eyes, and tune in to your body's sensations.
Take three deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
Allow your breath to settle into its rhythm, feeling your chest and belly rise and fall.
Consider how you want to show up for yourself, the qualities you want to enhance, and ways to be compassionate during challenging moments.
Set your intention for the day and check in regularly to stay focused on your daily purpose.
Realise deeply that the present moment is all you have.
Multitasking does not work; it exhausts the brain, and we cannot perform two actions with the same level of attention.
Introducing mindfulness teaches the brain to be more present by promoting intentional actions and decisions. This is how you train your brain to be more present.
Reduce multitasking as much as possible; most things done while multitasking need to be revisited.
Assign yourself the task to be intentional as often as possible while performing tasks.
Notice every time your mind wanders, resist judging yourself, and bring your mind back to the task.
Self-Awareness: Listening to Yourself
Track your routine for a week. Living on default often leads to doing things because we think, "We have to", "We should", or "This is what everyone does." Begin to pay attention to your routine and observe how your mind and body feel after you do things you don't enjoy. And what about when you do something you love?
After a week, assess and list what needs your attention. Pay particular attention to procrastination, exhaustion, or any kind of physical pain. Notice your feelings: anger, sadness, anxiety, shame, and guilt. Check the feelings wheel and be specific.
Be honest with yourself; there's a big difference between finding excuses and setting expectations too high.
Self-awareness is about knowing what you are capable of, but also your limits. Listening to yourself means becoming familiar with your mind and bodily sensations. If you keep leaving something behind, explore why. If you force yourself to do something, assess if it is worth doing it and find alternative solutions.
In a world full of doing, doing, doing,
it’s important to take a moment to just breathe, to just be.
Incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine demands a little time but benefits your overall well-being. So, the next time you feel rushed or stressed, take a moment to pause, breathe, and infuse mindfulness into the moment. Your mind and body will thank you.
When unpleasant feelings rule your day for too long, it’s time to reach out to someone you trust. You don't have to face everything alone. If you don't have someone to talk to, contact a helpline, a support group, or a professional. Your GP or a counsellor can make a difference in your wellbeing.
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