Try these simple practices to help calm your mind and stay in the present moment.
Mindfulness is a way of feeling centered so you can embrace the present moment. People who practice mindfulness report more relaxation and clarity, better relationships, lower anxiety and depression, and even improved physical health. With all those potential perks, it seems appealing to give it a try.
However, when life is hectic, you may not feel like you have time to schedule hour-long meditation sessions every day. The good news is that you don’t have to! These simple mindfulness exercises are perfect for busy people to incorporate whenever you find a spare moment to relax:
- One-minute relaxation breathing
- Paying attention to your senses
- Five-minute mindful breathing
- Body scan meditation
- Mindful eating
- Walking meditation
- Practicing gratitude
Read on to learn how to incorporate these simple mindful exercises into your busy life.
One-minute relaxation breathing
There are 1,440 minutes in a day and a simple way to start is to find one or two to devote to this simple breathing mindfulness exercise. It’s particularly valuable when you’re feeling stressed because it’s meant to be calming. This one-minute practice involves regulating the breath. Start by closing your eyes, and then breathe in for a count of four and exhale for a count of eight. Repeat it four or five times as you picture the stress leaving your body. Notice how you feel afterward and whether the relaxation you cultivate in this quick exercise stays with you throughout the day.
Paying attention to your senses
No matter where you are or what you’re doing, you can tap into mindfulness by simply focusing on your five senses. What sights and colors can you see? What sounds can you hear? If you’re sitting at your desk, you can glance out the window at the birds flying by. Perhaps you gently touch the wood grain on your work surface to feel its texture. If you’re outdoors, do you smell the scent of pine needles or rain? When you engage in these mindful moments, try to make your senses your sole focus before getting on with your busy day.
Five-minute mindful breathing
Five minutes can fly by when we’re working, running errands, or caught up in other tasks. But you may be surprised how slow and refreshing five minutes can feel when you dedicate them to mindfulness. To practice this five-minute exercise, set a timer on your smartphone or other device. Then, find a comfortable spot, relax your body, and tune into your natural rhythm of breathing. You may also choose to turn on an audio-guided meditation to guide you through the practice and remind you when the time is up. If you have hearing loss, consider Guided Imagery for meditation.
Body scan meditation
Do you feel like you’re holding tension in your body? Body scan meditation can help isolate the source and relax the different parts. Body scanning is a good mindfulness exercise to practice at the end of the day, before bed, or when you get home from work. There’s no set amount of time for it, just however much you can spare. To begin, you may choose to lay down on your back with a small pillow under your head and knees and rest your hands gently at your sides. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then, focus on the feelings in your body, part-by-part. Move from the head to the neck to the shoulders and back, and so on. If you notice any tension as you’re scanning, try to release it as best you can. Once your scan is complete, slowly reacquaint with your surroundings, and carry the relaxation effects of your practice into the rest of your day or evening.
Since eating is something we do several times a day, you can multitask by also practicing an exercise called mindful eating. Like other forms of mindfulness, it encourages slowing down, eliminating distractions, and paying attention to your sensory experiences. In this case, you can focus on the sights, smells, textures, and tastes of your food. Is it hot or cold? Sweet or sour? Try chewing more slowly as you train your mind to remain present and aware for the duration of your meal. As a bonus, this mindfulness exercise can help you eat less, reduce cravings, and even improve digestive health.
When you’re busy, you can turn a simple walk to your car, office, or around the block into a mindfulness exercise. To begin, eliminate distractions like your phone so that you can hone in on the experience. Focus on the simple feeling of movement as you take each step, the air in your lungs, and notice the beauty of your surroundings. Ten minutes is all you need to reset and refresh!
Mindfulness exercises can also help you cultivate a positive outlook by intentionally noticing and appreciating the little things. It could be something thoughtful a friend or partner did, beautiful weather, a cozy favorite sweater, a trip you’re looking forward to, or a pleasant memory. As you start or end each day, try to find at least one opportunity to be mindful of gratitude. You can simply bring what you’re grateful for to mind, write it down, or share with someone. Practicing this mindfulness exercise regularly can help make positivity a priority, which vastly increases happiness and life satisfaction.
Learn more about the benefits of positive thinking, including the effect it can have on your immune system, stress levels, heart disease risk, and more.
In addition to mindfulness exercises, discover more ways to improve your health and wellness on our blog.
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