With so many distractions and things to think about, it can be difficult to live in the present moment. Our minds either get caught up replaying past scenarios or thinking about what’s coming up next. Our lives are filled with social media and constant notifications. Many of us have spent several hours of our lives watching TikTok or mindlessly scrolling on social media; our attention is pulled so many ways. We are constantly living in the past, present, or virtually, and we forget to be in the present.
Mindfulness is a practice to start living in the present again. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, defines mindfulness as “the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally.” In other words, mindfulness is being fully aware of the present moment and noticing any thoughts, emotions, and sensations as they come up without judgment. Some of the benefits of mindfulness include reducing anxiety, improving mood, decreasing stress, reducing rumination, reducing anger, and increasing empathy. Now, let’s talk about some easy ways to practice mindfulness in your daily life.
Tune into Your Senses
An easy way to be more mindful is to tune into your senses and be present with the external world. Direct your attention to your environment and notice what you see. Focus on the sensations around you- noticing the sounds, smells, tastes, and physical sensations. Allow yourself to fully immerse in the present, without judgment or attachment to thoughts. This tool can be used for grounding during times of anxiety and distress.
A body scan involves cultivating awareness of your body. Bring awareness to the different parts of your body starting with your head and slowly moving down, noticing any sensations or tension within your body without judgment. This practice promotes a connection between your mind and body to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
Deep breathing is a simple technique that activates the relaxation response in our brains to reduce anxiety and be more grounded. To practice deep breathing, find a quiet, comfortable space with a relaxed gaze. Take slow, deep breaths, allowing your abdomen to rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale. Repeat for a few minutes to fully experience the calming effects of tuning into your breath.
Walking can be a great opportunity to take a break and practice mindfulness. On your walk, notice how it feels for your feet to touch the ground, the temperature of the air on your skin, and the sounds around you. Notice the different colors of the trees, any birds or squirrel around you, and how it feels to move your body. Tune into your senses and try to fully experience the moment.
In all, mindfulness is a powerful practice to add into your self-care routine. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed or depressed, mindfulness is shown to positively impact your mental health. Remember, mindfulness is a skill that grows with practice, so be patient and compassionate with yourself along the way. As a therapist in Gainesville, FL, I recognize how difficult it can be to be present and not feel overwhelmed, so hopefully these tools can provide you some relief. (Click here to learn more about me!) If you're looking for additional support in cultivating mindfulness or managing your mental health, I would love to connect with you and begin your healing journey. I offer free 15 minute consultations to prospective clients to see if we'd be a good fit. Feel free to give me a call or text at 352-649-3876 or fill out my contact form.
Written by Sasha Larson, LMHC