Mindfulness is most simply put being aware and present at any given moment of our thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This can be a disconcerting practice for anyone, most notably those that struggle with anxiety and depression.
For mindfulness to be effective during our most trying times, it is important to get into the habit of daily mindfulness practice, so that these techniques can be easily accessed even during times of high stress. Below are some simple mindfulness exercises that you can get into the habit of during your daily routine.
While washing dishes observe the temperature of the water. Is it hot, cold, warm, or cool? Pay attention to the feeling of the water on your hands. Listen to how the water sounds as it comes out of the spigot, falls to the ground, and drains away. Note the smell and lather of the soap as you wash. Observe how the dish changes as it goes from dirty to clean.
During your morning or evening commute (or both!) try to look for something you’ve never noticed before. Describe what you notice in detail. What color was it? What shape was it? What is it used for?
Listen to a song you enjoy. Try to pick out each instrument that you hear and listen to the song paying attention to each instrument in turn.
Clench your fists. Note the strain of this action. Pay attention to how your hand changes as you clench and release. Note your reaction to the release of tension as you unclench your fist.
All of these exercises are great ways to practice mindfulness day to day and take only 5 minutes at a time. Should you decide to begin implementing one or more of the above exercises into your routine make sure to be intentional about scheduling time every day to commit to mindful practice. If it helps, set an alarm for yourself when you’d like to practice your mindfulness skills and complete the above exercise(s) within an allotted time frame you set. Bedtime and morning routines are typically good transition points during the day for relaxation and are easy target points for beginning a new habit.
Be patient with yourself when developing any new skills, especially mindfulness. As with all good things practice makes perfect!