Our lives are so busy and we attempt to do it all! We are constantly in a juggling act between school, homework, jobs, family, friends, relationships, exercise, and personal time. Sometimes we are successful in getting through many items on our to-do list, however, merely crossing off an item doesn’t mean you were actually as efficient as you could have been, or whether you were actually engaged in what you were doing!
Chances are, due to limited hours in the day and feeling overwhelmed all of life’s responsibilities, you have fallen into a pattern of multitasking. At first, there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with multitasking – why only get one thing done at a time, when you can get two or three? It seems like an efficient way of being. The problem is that when you’re simply going through the motions, you aren’t fully engaging in your life. Additionally, our brains aren’t actually designed to give quality attention to too many tasks at once. In fact, studies show that multitasking can actually compromise your brain’s ability to function at optimal levels, while at the same time triggering stress hormones that may lead to health issues.
At one time in our human development, the ability to pay attention to multiple things might have been a matter of life or death. Back in caveman days, being able to hear a rustling in the woods, while you were doing something else, might have saved your life. But now in our modern times, our distractions aren’t life or death but our mind still never stops – it is constantly full with overwhelming, persistent and exhausting internal chatter, coupled with all our things to do. It’s no wonder we’re stressed and tired from all that juggling. Luckily, there are proven ways to help!
When we are practicing mindfulness, you are living your life with awareness, attention, and intention. Rooting yourself in a practice that helps you develop a deep connection with your breath will be help you to feel more calm, and it will also bridge your mind with your body, and will help continually draw your attention back into the present moment. Rather than ruminating over the past or fearing the future, mindfulness is about being in the here and now. Cultivating this practice has been scientifically proven not only to reduce stress and anxiety, but also improves the quality of our attention and focus, as well as strengthening the mind/body connection. When you are in the moment, you are practicing bringing yourself to the task at hand, and learning to not engage in distractions around you. Overall, mindfulness helps you enhances your quality of presence and experiences; it is not something to add to your to-do list, but rather it’s a way of being in the world.
So, how do you practice mindfulness? Follow these easy steps… It’s not hard to do, it’s just hard to remember to do.
- slow down
- take a minute and just breathe
- notice what is arising around and within you without giving in to the urge to do anything about it – simply notice
- pay attention to your present moment emotions and thoughts; give space for them to exist – no need to judge or change them
- be aware of your body sensations and breathe into any pain or tension you may be experiencing
- practice self-compassion – acknowledge to yourself that “this is really hard right now”
- keep breathing – as long as you are breathing there is more right with you than wrong with you
- give yourself realistic timeframes for what you are trying to get accomplished
- focus on gratitude when you find yourself getting overwhelmed
- give yourself permission to DO LESS – no one is as hard on yourself as you are, so give yourself a break
- exercise – even taking a short 10-minute walk can help clear your mind and focus your energy and attention where you want it to be