Every now and then, moments of mindfulness are needed, whether it's because of a stressful week at work or a relationship conflict. Sometimes it can be easy to get through those stressful moments without being aware of the clear signs that you need to be more mindful in your everyday life. And instead of trying to find a solution to your stressful emotion state, you focus on the problem.
"We all have things we do without thinking. Driving, walking to work, eating, showering. These are all things that can be interesting, or even pleasant, if we give them our full attention and notice as much as possible. For example, when eating a meal, notice every aspect of it — appearance, smell, texture, the taste of each component. Focus only on what you are eating. Do this once or twice a day," says chief scientist of Happify Acacia Parks, Ph.D., in an interview with Bustle over email.
But what exactly are the benefits of being mindful? Parks continues, "[Being mindful] improves physical health — better immunity, and less physical response to stress, reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, improves cognitive performance, including better memory and focus, more ability to think flexibly, and less distracting negative thoughts, and improves relationship satisfaction."
If all that doesn't convince you to be more mindful, then I don't know what will. But just in case if you need more proof, here are nine signs you need to be more mindful.
1. You're Constantly On Autopilot
Ever have those moments when you're driving and you don't remember how you got from point A to point B? If you find yourself constantly on autopilot, it might be time to find ways to be more mindful. "You find that you do many things on autopilot — time passes and you don't even remember what you did," says Parks.
2. You Don't Understand Why You Feel A Certain Way
"You often have feelings you don't understand — the most common are anger, anxiety, and sadness. For example: 'I feel down but I don't know why,'" says Parks. Learning how to be more self-aware with your emotions can help you become more mindful in your surroundings and emotions. Begin a mindful journal to channel your thoughts and help you get a grasp on how you're truly feeling.
3. You Feel Stuck In Your Head
If you're prone to anxiety, it's easy to feel like your always concerned about something. Rather than worrying about the unknown, use mindful tricks to bring yourself back into the present. "You feel stuck 'in your head' — agonizing over the past, worrying about the future — and as a result, miss out on what's happening in the present," says Parks.
4. You're Constantly Overthinking
A major sign that you need to be more mindful in your life is that you find yourself constantly second-guessing your thoughts. If you find your work taking longer than normal because you're afraid to make a mistake, take a break, and mentally escape for a little bit to gather your thoughts. "You find yourself really caught up in stress and overthinking, just take a minute to stop, turn that attention to your breath, and pause there. Pull yourself away from the flurry of thoughts and just be still for a moment," says Parks. "This technique will get more and more powerful the more time you spend doing [mediation] — because practicing sitting meditation makes it easier to immediately transport yourself to that quiet place in moments like this."
5. You're Rushing Through Your Meals
"Most often mindless eating happens when we’re rushed, multitasking, or bored. Mindful eating is about being present. Our world today is cluttered and busy with most of us multi-tasking at any given point in time," says registered dietitian and Vega expert Kim McDevitt in an interview with Bustle over email. Instead of eating while working or scrolling through your phone, put all electronics away and learn to enjoy the textures and flavors of your meal.
6. You're Constantly Exhausted
According to MindBodyGreen, speaker, meditation coach, and the co-founder of PURGGO Mark Zhang, "Balancing work and family is enough to leave anyone feeling exhausted, and stress is one of the main causes of fatigue. Meditation helps you manage your stress levels and leaves you feeling more energized and rejuvenated." In addition to meditation, getting a good night's rest is essential to feeling rejuvenated and fresh. Don't let work get the best of your sleep schedule.
7. You're Eating Your Food In A Trance
Ever have that moment of the spoon hitting the bottom of the bowl and you wonder, "Where did my food go?" This might means you're aimlessly eating and truly not enjoying your food. "When we eat mindfully we are more aware of the amount of food we’re consuming. We are able to take our time, savoring each bite and enjoying the beautiful, nutrient dense food we’ve chosen," says McDevitt. "One component of mindless eating is eating in a trance — sitting with a giant bowl of popcorn and watching TV, for example. Before you know it (and before you’ve given your body time to signal to your brain that you’re full) you’ve eaten the entire bowl."
8. Your Anger Is On The Rise
While it's normal to express anger every now and then, getting frustrated over the littlest things might indicate that you need a mental break. According to Yoga blog, Spoiled Yogi, Erica Winters, prenatal and postnatal yoga teacher, said, "When I take a step back and really look at it objectively, I realize these are the days that I just have too much on my plate, I’m trying to do too much, or I’m stressed out in some other way. I might not be able to control all the things on my calendar always, but I can control how I speed through my day checking things off my to-do list."
9. Feeling Distracted When Communicating With Others
According to meditation website The Mindful News, you might be feeling stressed if you're constantly feeling distracted when you're talking with other people. Try to recognize when you do this, take a few breaths, and bring yourself back to the present and into the conversation.
If any of these signs sound familiar to you, don't panic. There are plenty of ways to become more attuned with your feelings, whether that's through meditation, mindful journaling, or trying an adult coloring book. The possibilities are endless; the first step is simply making the choice to change.