It might sound abstract when someone advises you to be more mindful. However, mindfulness is easier to integrate into your daily routine than you may think.
All that you have to do is to pause briefly several times a day, listen to your inner voice, be aware of yourself and make absolutely no judgments. Stay in the here and now both physically and mentally.
"It enhances the quality of life," says Dr. Christian Stock, a specialist in internal and psychotherapeutic medicine. You enjoy the moment and calm down.
The problem is that many people don't really concentrate on what they're doing much of the time because they're multitasking. An example, Stock says, is "simultaneously eating breakfast, reading a newspaper and listening to the radio." Or ironing while watching television and talking on the phone.
Is such behavior really so bad? Yes, says Stock, because "it saps your energy and makes you restless."
It's better for your well-being when you concentrate on one activity at a time, he says. At breakfast, for example, focus on the smell and taste of the coffee, the bread and butter, and enjoy them to the fullest.
And when you're finished eating, devote all of your attention to the news in the paper or on your phone without being distracted by music from the radio.
Your well-being will also benefit from reining in your thoughts. "There's no point in constantly brooding over what may have gone badly in the past, and what you could have or should have done better," says psychologist and anti-stress coach Jacob Drachenberg. After all, what's done is done.
And constantly wondering about what might happen in the future is a waste of mental energy too, he adds - worrying, for example, about whether the meeting with your boss in the coming week will go well.
"Instead, it'll do you good to focus on the present and experience it with all your senses," remarks Drachenberg.
There are many mindfulness exercises that you can do. "One of them is to mediate for 15 minutes after you get up in the morning," says Stock – in other words, completely block out the outside world and concentrate solely on yourself.
The following exercise is even easier: Rather than rolling right out of bed when the alarm clock goes off, take your time and consciously inhale and exhale. Then take in your surroundings. Is it already light outside or still dark? Are birds chirping? Is a dog barking? Be thankful that you're lying comfortably in your bed and have a roof over your head.
You can practice mindfulness exercises at other times as well. "Instead of getting irritated by having to queue up at the supermarket checkout, you'll benefit by simply taking pause to hone your senses," says Drachenberg. In what colors are the people ahead of you dressed? What smells can you detect in the supermarket?
Here's another tip from Drachenberg: Keep a gratitude journal in which you note, every evening, all of the positive things that happened that day. "There are often more of them than you think," he says.
It's important to get out of your head and into your body, which you can do during sport or a workout, for instance. "You feel the effects of the physical exertion, and how your heart beats faster," Drachenberg says. It's a great feeling.
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