Most of us go through our days without taking many moments to pause and reflect on what we're doing. Although we're just trying to keep up with the hectic busyness of our lives, it's important to find ways to take time and be mindful. Stopping to pay attention to the moment can help give us not only mental clarity, but even improve our overall health.
"Becoming ‘mindful’ means being more ‘purposefully aware’ of what you’re experiencing from moment to moment, without judging that experience," says Patricia Karpas, host of Untangle, a meditation podcast by Gaiam in an email to Bustle. "It takes a lot more practice than one might think!"
It's easy for us to react automatically to experiences around us, such as getting impatient in the supermarket line or honking angrily in a traffic jam. But we can use mindfulness to change how we react in experiences and become our best selves. "Mindfulness helps us to recognize or notice the feelings that we’re experiencing, to pause and then to respond in a more thoughtful way," says Karpas.
If you want to start living more in the present and improve both your physical and mental health, consider taking on these 11 daily habits of mindful people.
1. They Meditate
When we think of mindfulness, we automatically think meditation, and for good reason. Meditation is the staple of mindfulness. "Meditation practice helps us to simply sit and be with what ever arises in our busy minds," says Karpas. A regular meditation practice can help reduce anxiety, depression, and stress, according to a study from Johns Hopkins University. It can also improve your physical health, as meditation has been shown to boost the immune system and lower blood pressure, according to research from the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.
2. They Express Their Gratitude
"Being grateful is a way to always see the bigger picture," says Karpas. "Count the many things you are grateful for, even when things are not going your way. You’ll find that this practice helps you to be more mindful of all the positive things that are in your life, even when you’re at your all time low." Science agrees: People who regularly write down what they are grateful for are more optimistic, feel better about their lives, and even have less visits to the physician, according to Harvard Health.
3. They Listen To Their Body
Part of being mindful includes being in tune with your personal needs, which means not pushing yourself over the edge. "Sometimes we’re not up to being constantly on the go," says Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, also known as The Wealthy Yogi , to Bustle over email. "Mindfulness includes listening to your body and taking breaks when necessary."
4. They Prioritize Rest
That being said, rest is not a sign of the weak. "It’s important for you to also prioritize time for rest and renewal," says Novellus. "Although it may cause anxiety to close the laptop or not check your phone for a day, it’s important to disconnect and calendar in time just for yourself."
5. They Smile
Sometimes we hurry so quickly through our day, we don't take the time to smile at others — hello resting bitch face anyone? "The more you smile at people the more positive energy comes back to you," says mindfulness coach Kathy Walsh over email. "It’s simple, easy and you’ll be surprised by how effective it is." In fact, studies show that smiling at others helps you release the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, and it helps other people view you as more attractive, reliable, relaxed and sincere.
6. They Spend Time In Nature
"Doesn’t matter where you are, in city or suburb," says Walsh. "Take a moment to connect with nature. Appreciate the change in seasons."
7. They Cultivate Their Space
"Whether it's cleaning your home, desk, body, or mind, look for ways to reduce unnecessary clutter," says Jen Kluczkowski, the CEO/co-founder of Mindfresh, over email. Physical clutter can have a negative effect on your ability to focus, according to a study from Princeton University, so having a clean and organized space will help you get your thoughts together.
8. They Simply Breathe
"Spend a few minutes everyday doing ‘Square Breathing,'" says Karpas. "This is a simple breath practice that you can do anytime, anywhere. Inhale for four counts. Hold for four counts. Exhale for four counts. Hold for four counts. This helps to regulate the nervous system, which is always good for stress and impulsive reactions."
9. They Separate Their Thoughts & Emotions
"When you are feeling a strong emotion, just notice it," says Karpas. "Most of us ‘become’ the emotion and get attached to it and even ruminate in it. If you can notice the feeling and be curious about it instead of becoming it, you’ll see the situation differently."
10. They Enjoy Their Meals
"Being present with your meal helps us enjoy our eating experiences and listen to our body's internal signals that guide our eating," says Alexis Conason, Psy.D. over email. Mindful eating — which includes savoring your food with all your senses, pausing between bites, and avoiding distractions — has been shown to help people have better eating habits and have a healthier relationship with food, according to Harvard Health.
11. They Do Something Creative
Doing something creative and being mindful go hand in hand. Forms of art such as music, writing, and visual arts have been shown to help decrease stress and anxiety, according to multiple studies. On the flip side, a study from Frontiers in Cognition found that meditation can make you more creative.
Taking a moment each day to tune in with your thoughts and actions can have powerful effects.
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