These small changes to your routine will have you on the fast track to zen.
Sure yoga and meditation are spruiked for their abilities to help us embrace a calmer life (and there’s no doubting that they work a damn treat). But that’s not the only way to achieve mindfulness. It’s something that can be incorporated in your day to day life by making a few extra tweaks to your routine, and making the effort to pay more attention to the most simple of your daily tasks.
Have a good stretch It may sound a little silly, but a good old fashioned stretch in the morning is one of the easiest ways to bring more mindfulness to your day. Not only will it help to energise you and likely help centre you for demands of the day ahead, but the physical act of stretching forces the body to slow down the breath, and the mind. Most importantly, movement also brings you firmly out of your mind into the physical, present body. The best time to stretch is at the start of the day, but little stretch breaks throughout are also encouraged, particularly when you sit at a desk for long periods of time.
Put down your phone There’s no shame in being glued to your phone because, let’s face it, most of us are. But phones often just form a distraction from what you are really doing - mindlessly scrolling through social media can really prevent you from being present in the moment. Turn your phone on silent when you can throughout the day and put it away from your direct line of sight, even put it in another room so that you are able to fully concentrate on where you are and who you’re with.
Listen You may be right in the middle of a conversation with a friend, but are you really listening? Take the time to really tune in to what the other person is saying to you. It also helps to put away your phone and make regular eye contact, which will help you to remove one of life’s key distractions and gain better focus. Another important part of listening (which all of us forget sometimes) is to not interrupt when someone is talking - instead sit back and prompt them by asking open-ended questions rather than jump to conclusions. You’ll most likely find that when you listen more deeply to what someone else is saying, they’ll return the favour.
Eat your food slowly Who else is guilty of wolfing down their latest meal in front of the TV or computer? We’ve all been there but it’s not a habit that we’d encourage if you’d like to live your life more mindfully. Turn of the screen in front of you (phone included) so that you can enjoy your next meal to its full extent. It’s about getting in touch with all of your senses; smell the food, taste it and savour every mouthful, think about it’s different textures, what it looks like. When you are eating also try to take small bites and chew them slowly so that you can fully appreciate the experience. As an added bonus for those still sceptical of slowing down, studies have shown that being mindful with your food can help to aid weight loss.
Go for a walk Connecting to nature is an easy way to be brought straight back into the present, with growing studies suggesting green spaces encourage greater calm in the mind and body. Going for a quick 5-10 minute stroll outside will clear your mind; just remember to try and do it mindfully. What that means is paying attention to your breathing, watch and notice each foot as it takes step after step, and pay attention to the sights and sounds that are around you, from plants to people.