What is mindfulness? In this post we share how mindfulness reduces stress and anxiety by helping us live in the present moment. Discover 10 easy ways to practice mindfulness in your daily activities and routine and receive the benefits of a more connected, joyful life!
This post is sponsored by Ridgecrest Herbals. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Root + Revel to provide free content and healthy living inspiration.
Mindfulness is a buzzword these days… but what exactly does it mean?
In the simplest of terms, mindfulness means focusing your attention on the present moment. That's it!
It sounds straightforward, but in a world that moves faster than ever before–where we're constantly inundated with information, interruptions, alerts, phone calls, and text messages–this can be a lot harder than it sounds.
The truth is, most of us are so busy that–while we're more connected to the world around us than ever before–we're not present or grounded in our own being or body. We're usually in our heads, worrying about the future, or reliving the past, or reacting to and judging what's happening in the present.
This causes a ton of stress, anxiety, depression, and disconnection with ourselves and our loved ones. It leaves us feeling like all we have time to do is be ‘busy' checking off our to-do lists, without having a deeper, more intimate connection to ourselves or others.
That's where mindfulness comes in! Mindfulness connects us back to the goodness of the present moment. It allows us to drop into our bodies by noticing our emotions and physical sensations. The more we can observe the present moment–with acceptance–the more benefits you'll feel.
It takes practice, but soon you'll notice that practicing mindfulness leaves you feeling more connected to life by helping you feel more settled, centered and relaxed in your body, while also being more attuned to your intuition and inner knowing. It also allows a deeper connection with our friends, family, and coworkers, as we can be more present with them once we learn how to be more present with ourselves.
Keep reading for 10 ways you can practice mindfulness today!
1) Practice Mindfulness with Breath
Our breath is our connection to life. Without it, we cease to be.
Our breathing occurs naturally and rhythmically, usually without us even noticing. So when you start to pay attention to your breath, it takes you out of your mind and into your body–not to mention, deep breathing has also been scientifically proven to affect the heart, brain, digestion, the immune system, and maybe even the expression of genes! (source)
Try placing your attention on your inhale, then exhale. Repeat. When thoughts come into your mind (which they will!), simply bring your attention back to your breath. Don't make yourself wrong or judge the thoughts–simply notice them and come back to your body.
I like inhaling for 4, holding for 4, exhaling for 4. Or inhaling for 2, exhaling for 4.
As you continue to practice this, you momentarily free yourself from the tape player of worries, mental chatter, judgments, fears, etc. in your head. You'll feel more grounded and relaxed as you connect to the only thing you have in this life that's with you 24/7–your own body!
2) Take Supplements to Support Your Mood, Focus and Energy
If you're feeling full of anxiety and don't know where to start when it comes to trying to change your habits and mindset–before you turn to pharmaceuticals and prescriptions to calm your nerves–try a more natural approach like a supplement that's shown to reduce anxiety.
My husband, Matt, recently was struggling with some physical anxiety and took Anxiety Free from Ridgecrest Herbals. After a few weeks, he came to me out of the blue (I kid you not!) and told me he could tell a noticeable difference in how he felt–less racing thoughts and rapid heartrate, shortness of breath, jitters before an important work call or presentation, etc. He was amazed!
Ridgecrest Herbals’ botanical formulas are rooted in what’s worked for centuries (if not millennia!) in traditional holistic modalities, yet they've added some innovative upgrades.
For example, Ridgecrest uses homeoactive™ encapsulation, a way of combining homeopathics with herbs or nutrients for maximum potency, and Portfolio™ formulation, a way of using small doses of many ingredients to increase the safety and efficacy of herbal formulations.
Their Anxiety Free Stress Relief Complex contains:
- Ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic adaptogenic herb which may support a number of bodily systems, and often used to promote calm and help promote a healthy immune system
- L-Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, that may promote relaxation and help relieve stress
- Lavender Herb, well-known for its gentle, lovely scent and ability to promote relaxation
- Passion Flower Herb, which may promote well-being, relaxation, and sleep
In fact, Anxiety Free won the ‘Remedies Stress Award' in 2018, and the ‘Best of Supplements' Award from Better Nutrition in 2016.
So if prolonged levels of stress are throwing your body out of whack and causing you irritability, fatigue, or tension, try Anxiety Free to support your body's natural ability to create feelings of peace, calm, and overall ‘zen'-iness.
3) Feel Your Body and Connect to Your Senses
Your senses–touch, smell, taste, sound, and sight–are your gateway into the present moment.
Being in tune with our senses helps us override the constant thinking and busyness of our minds. When you're lost in thought, it can often be an ‘out of body' experience where you're running on such autopilot that you don't experience what your senses are picking up.
If you really want to hone your intuition and feel at home in your body and within yourself, you need to practice experiencing and trusting your emotions and sensation as your internal guidance system.
Connect to your senses can be in the simplest of moments and truly some of life's best pleasures.
Pause to smell the delicious aroma of your coffee. Feel your mouth water as you walk into a restaurant. Appreciate the colorful gardens and flowers on your next walk. Touch a soft blanket and really feel the comfort against your skin. Eat a piece of chocolate as slowly as you possibly can and really, truly, taste it. Stretch and do yoga while deeply feeling your breath and connection to your body.
When you put love and attention into the simplest tasks of your day, you will be amazed how much joy and peace they can bring you!
I also use this approach if I feel a panic attack coming on by counting colors. I simply try to count 5 things that are blue and then 5 things that are red; it's been insanely helpful to really bring me back into my body and helps get rid of those panicky feelings.
4) Practice Mindfulness with Meditation + Visualizations
Most of us have to cope with significant amounts of lifestyle, relationship, emotional and work stress on a daily basis. Some of it’s big, but a lot of it is simple, everyday stress from our modern, fast-paced lifestyles.
While easier said than done to simply “not stress”, one super helpful and proven process to combat stress and become more present is meditation. (Here’s just one study showing the benefits of meditation on stress.)
If you find it hard to stay still and present, I highly recommend you try one of the following:
- Ziva Meditation method: this really helped me when I was first starting to meditate. In just 15 days, the zivaONLINE course will help you relieve stress and develop an enjoyable mindfulness, meditation and manifesting practice to take with you for life. Ready to get started? You can download their FREE Stress Less meditation here!
- The REST Technique: an easy, effective technique that works for anyone–even those with the busiest minds and schedules! (Learn more about this outside-the-box meditation practice here, and use the code ROOT10 for 10% off the course!)
- Circle + Bloom's Stress Reduction Program: guided visualizations and meditations to reduce stress and become more resilient, or their Positive Thinking and Mindfulness Program: a guided mindfulness meditation to increase your sense of peace and declutter your mind. Get 20% off at Circle + Bloom with the code rootandrevel20 (meaning you can get either of these programs for just $8)! (ends 9/23/20)
- I can’t say enough positive things about about the app Headspace–their anxiety series SAVED ME when I was having panic attacks a few years back.
- Gaia also has some great meditations
5) Express Gratitude
Giving gratitude for what you have in your life has been scientifically proven to help with self-esteem, better sleep, increasing happiness, physical health and much more. (source)
Consider giving thanks out loud every morning to kick off your day, or start a gratitude journal that you write in every night before bed. It can be the smallest things, like feeling grateful for your cup of coffee that morning, or for a phone call you received from a friend. The more gratitude you can find throughout your day, the more things you’ll start noticing that you can be grateful for!
One of my favorite tools is the 5-Minute Gratitude Journal–after just a week of using it, I couldn’t believe how much brighter my mood was!
6) Listen with Presence
Most of us never truly listen to people when they are speaking to us, because we're too busy planning what to say next, judging what they are saying, or getting lost in worrying or daydreams altogether.
Next time you're in a conversation, make it your goal to fully listen to what the other person is saying to you, without getting lost in your thoughts. Remember the practices above of noticing your breath and staying connected to your senses. These grounding practices will help stay more present and automatically help you become a better listener.
Trust that you will intuitively know the right thing to say next when it's your turn to speak when you're present in a conversation, versus having to have it perfectly recited in your head.
7) Pause + Make Intentions
How can you feel present if you're moving super fast (especially inside your head)?
Putting mini pauses between actions in your day can ground you in your inner being, clear your mind, and provide you with fresh energy for the new task ahead. Abraham-Hicks calls this ‘segment intending' (in their book Ask and It Is Given).
Segment intending is preparing yourself for a ‘segment' so you have control over how you want to feel during that segment. A segment could be ‘having breakfast' or ‘driving to work' or ‘attending your weekly Monday meeting.' Imagine yourself in that activity, and say aloud (or in your head, if you can't aloud) what you're doing and what it feels like to be doing that activity.
Think of it like putting energetic bookends at the start and end of each activity–you'll be amazed at how this helps lines up your day to feel more aligned and less stressful.
At the very least, try making intentions at the beginning of each day for how you want to feel that day, and try to pause and slow down in as many moments as possible; pause and listen to the sound of the phone ringing before answering it, pause and feel the weight of your body in the driver's seat before starting your car, or pause after you put on your jacket before heading out the door for the day.
8) Connect to Your Spiritual Side
Whether you follow a certain religion or simply consider yourself ‘spiritual', cultivating a spiritual practice is one of the best things we can do to feel more connected and present in the moment.
Recently, I've really gotten into drawing cards to help center me, calm my mind and find meaning in everyday life. Slowing down each morning and really listening to what the universe is telling me has been really powerful.
I recently bought the Affirmators at Work deck, Super Attractor, and Soul Truth. They're all so beautiful and thought-provoking! Sometimes it's eerie how spot on they are to exactly what's happening in my life, and if you open your mind and your heart, they will tell you what you need or what to do.
The mind, body, and spirit are all connected, so don't forget about your physical body in your pursuit of the mystical. Dancing, drumming, practicing yoga, singing, or chanting are all deeply intuitive ways to express our spiritual selves through our bodies. See if you can get out of your head and simply allow your body to tell you what it wants.
9) Practice Mindfulness on a Walk
Apply the practices above of connecting to your senses and breath while walking. Even a 15-minute mindful walk around your neighborhood can be a meditative experience that promotes calm and clarity.
There are always opportunities to be more mindful when you are walking. Give your attention to your surroundings. Appreciate the scenery and even the work that’s gone into creating and maintaining the sidewalks or trails you’re on. Breathe in the scent of the air. Feel the sun on your skin. Smile and give thanks for your legs and your body for being able to walk with ease!
10) Read Books on Mindfulness
Ready for more? Here are some amazing books on mindfulness:
- Thich Nhat Hanh's The Miracle of Mindfulness
- Eckhardt Tolle's The Power of Now
- Courtney Carver's Soulful Simplicity
What are your favorite ways to practice mindfulness? Let us know in the comments below!