On any given day, our schedule requires balance between work, school, exercise, social time and (when we can fit it in) self-care. We’re able to juggle an impressive amount of tasks, but how often are we truly focused on what we’re doing instead of just rushing to the next item on our to-do list? Mindfulness is a valuable exercise in being more present, and finding ways to create a mindfulness practice in your already too-busy routine is easier than you might think.
According to Mindful Magazine, “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” In this series, Om with Olive + M, we explore ways to be more purposeful during small moments of your day—from your morning skincare routine to quality time with friends.
Benefits of being mindful
Being able to more deeply savor life’s moments is probably what most people would cite as the main benefit of their mindfulness practice. What are some of the other tangible takeaways of being mindful?
To start, mindfulness can help mediate anxious thought processes. According to Harvard Medical School, anxious individuals have trouble dealing with distracting, intrusive thoughts. Through mindful meditation, you can actually train your brain to bypass anxious thinking by focusing on what is really, truly happening in the present moment—not what happened in the past or what could happen in the future. By focusing on the present, we’re able to have more adaptive reactions to difficult situations.
Mindfulness can reduce stress and negative side effects of chronic stress. Practicing mindfulness helps you regulate emotional reactions to stressful situations and increases positive effects (aka, positive emotions like cheerfulness, pride and joy.) Using mindfulness as a stress reducing technique not only helps you handle tough situations, it can subsequently reduce the major side effects that come with consistent stress, like high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.
Mindfulness can also sharpen your working memory. Distractions present themselves every day in the form of emails, Slack messages, texts and Instagram DMs. This constant influx of information can lead our minds to wander and pull us out of whatever we are focused on in the moment, which in the long run can prevent us from absorbing and retaining information. A study by UC Santa Barbara found that mindfulness training was effective in improving memory by helping participants control how much their minds wandered, which helped them focus on the moment and retain more information in the long run.
You already dedicate time to your skin each day—why not practice being fully present in those moments of self care?
How to incorporate mindfulness into your routine
Mindfulness can take many shapes, and it’s a misconception that it requires clearing your mind of any thoughts. On the contrary, you’re encouraged to think (about the present!) There are plenty of ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your current lifestyle that don’t require any extra money—just time you already have in your schedule. Here are a few of our tips and tricks for being mindful in the day-to-day.
Be fully present in your morning or evening skincare ritual
You already dedicate time to your skin each day—why not practice being fully present in those moments of self care? As you’re cleansing, toning or masking, take time to notice and appreciate your skin. Was it particularly lustrous that day? Did it need a little extra love in the morning to combat dryness? Pay extra attention to the texture and sensation of using the products of your choice; what temperature, smell and physical sensations do you observe? Listening to your skin for just a few minutes each day can help clear your mind and live in sync with your body.
Enjoy a quiet, purposeful lunch break
Instead of inhaling lunch at your desk while juggling twenty other work tasks, try eating in a quiet place where you can be intentional about that time and what you’re choosing to put into your body. Focus your attention on the meal you’re enjoying, observing your surroundings or reflecting on how you’re feeling emotionally. Letting your brain rest from the hustle and bustle of work can lead to feeling more present and productive through the rest of your work day.
Put your phone away when spending time with friends
We’re all guilty of it—we meet up with friends only to be involved in the conversation one minute, and mindlessly scrolling through Instagram the next. Spending time with friends is the perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness by really, truly listening and participating in conversations. Make it a goal to stash your phone in your purse the next time you meet up with your BFFs—the result can lead to stronger relationships and more meaningful experiences together.
We’re on this journey to mindfulness together, so tag #OliveandOm on Instagram to show us how you’re incorporating slow living into your routine!