It’s widely known that mindfulness has proven benefits around improving mood and increasing clarity of the mind so it’s worth giving it a go. But for many of us that have tried it, the challenges soon start to pop up, especially when life gets difficult and “bad” (a judgement we know we shouldn’t use) and we no longer want to stay present amongst all of that.
However, with any new skill there’s a learning curve and tips you can use to make mindfulness feel like less work. Try out these 4 tips to make it feel like an easier task and to help you stay consistent.
1. Give up comparison
It can be difficult not to judge yourself if you’re having a more difficult time cultivating mindfulness than the people around you. Remember that there is not destination with mindfulness, there’s no reason to get competitive because there’s no way to win. You only need to be present right where you are.
Mindfulness is about practice and finding what brings you peace and clarity. You can try nature walks, breath work, body scanning, yoga and stick with it consistently. Mindfulness is subjective and what may work for your friends may fill you with distraction.
2. Record your wins
If you’re feeling defeated in your challenge to stay present and mindful, try keeping a ‘mindfulness record’. This could be tracking all the days that you spend time being mindful, for how long, and how it makes you feel. You can include the times you noticed all the colours of the sunset, the smokey smell outside, the sound of the bird singing or watched your child sleep.
An ongoing list can help reinforce the habit and help you identify times of the day you find it easier to be mindful and times when you should make a more conscious effort.
3. Attach mindfulness to your daily routine
We all know that mindfulness is most effective when practiced daily, but no matter how well intended we are that’ll we will make time for practice, life can get in the way. Work goes on too late into the day, or we’re out all day with a friend, or the kids are unwell and need looking after so no time is left to sit down and focus on deep breathing.
Any easy way to counteract this is by attaching mindfulness to a non-negotiable part of you daily routine which is completed day in, day out.
This means rather than stop what you’re doing to sit down and meditate for 15-20 minutes as your mindfulness practice, simply complete your task completely present. This could be noticing every taste, texture and smell as you’re eating a meal, or noticing all of the sensations of being outside whilst walking the dog.
You may be someone that wants to sit down and take those 15-20 minutes for pure, focused mindfulness practice, but attaching it to your daily routine like this means that if things do go wrong, you’ve still had that time to be fully in the now.
4. Add words to your mindfulness
This may sound contradictory, after all mindfulness is about clearing your mind of your thoughts… right?
Combining mindfulness with journalling through ‘mind dumps’ or ‘worry dumps’ can give you a feeling of presence while getting all of your thoughts down on paper. Often, writing out our stresses, worries, and thoughts rather than only thinking them through can give us a greater sense of relief and give us a clearer idea of what’s actually going on and why it’s happening. You can even try ripping up the paper afterwards for a stronger feeling of letting it go.
If you’re still in a self-care mood after completing your journalling, you could complete a mindfulness meditation and see how much easier it is which a clearer mind.