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Mindfulness for Busy People

    Mindfulness for Busy People

    Sometimes (most times) it’s just not possible to stop and smell the roses or practise mindfulness. On top of everything you have to juggle be it work, parenting and school demands, your partner (remember him or her? The light of your life?), running errands, attending to personal admin (did you pay the electricity bill?), errands, socialisation (have you seen any of your friends this month?), housework, LIFE, you realise something isn’t quite right and you decided to live mindfully.

    Which is great! Mindfulness has a wealth of evidence behind it demonstrating its benefits and the difference mindfulness practice can make to your life. There are many meditation guides, books, and resources available and many psychologists promote mindfulness.

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    So perhaps you have tried to implement mindfulness into your life. Maybe you even started listening to meditation guides or following practices set by your psychologist for homework. But then life took over and once again you find yourself reacting or floating through life rather than being responsive and actually being a part of your own life. Don’t worry, we all do this and it’s easy to fall back into this way of living. But if you have a full life and want to try again, there are some ways to live mindfully even if you are super busy.

    An easy yet effective way to incorporate mindfulness into your life is to integrate mindful exercises into your already existing routine. This way, mindfulness becomes a habit, meaning less mental energy is spent on practicing mindfulness (not to mention the reduction of guilt – you know the guilt that stems from knowing mindfulness good for you, but you didn’t do it again today). So here are some simple ways to live a mindful life:

    1. Breathing

    Stay with me. We do this all the time, it’s automatic, it’s easy AF, it’s free, available 24/7, and we can do it while doing something else so zero extra time needed. Next time you take a breath, try breathing a little deeper and a little slower. You can still do whatever it is you are doing (which right now is reading this). So here goes, as you read this – breathe in 1, 2, 3, and now breathe out 1, 2, 3 (there is no right or wrong way, no right or wrong numbers to use, really the aim is just to breath either a little deeper and slower or as deep and slow as possible; you decide). You can do this when you are on the phone listening to someone, driving, stacking the dishwasher, etc. Taking a few deep and slow breaths every now and then can help to slow things down just a little so you can get a mini break and reconnect with the present moment. 

    2. Noticing

    This refers to being aware of what is going on in your life as you go about your daily life. It’s noticing how your shoes feel when you are sitting on the train on the ride to work, the colour of the ocean on your walk, the tightness of your face when typing, another person’s facial expressions when you are talking to them, the taste and temperature of your morning coffee, or the texture of your sheets. There is no extra time or effort involved in noticing, and you can implement this anywhere at any time. Noticing is a simply way of creating mini moments of mindfulness.

    3. One Task

    This exercise may take a bit of prompting and thought, so not as simple as the rest. However, the one task you chose is ideally a task you already do. For example, you already brush your teeth every night (you do this right?!) so may choose to spend these few minutes practicing mindfulness by being aware of the taste of the toothpaste, sound of the toothbrush, feel of the bristles on your teeth and gums, how your mouth looks in the mirror, and smell of the mint and fluoride. Alternatively, you may choose to practice mindful breathing while you boil the kettle in the morning, or try noticing one (or more) things on your morning walk (e.g. is it windy or sunny, can you spot any graffiti, how many people are running and wearing pink singlets, what can you smell).

    4. Savour the moment

    Without sounding like a chocolate biscuit marketing campaign, savouring means to relish or delight in something without rushing through it. It’s when something tastes so delicious or feels so good you want to stay in the moment forever. But of course you can’t, nothing lasts forever and you have shit to do. But what you can do is savour brief treasures of time that occur during the everyday. Savouring is attending to positive moments; the moments that spark joy or bring a smile to your face. This might be when you open a fresh jar of coffee (so take an extra deep breath) or smell a new exotic fragranced shower gel, the flutter of your heart when kissing your partner, the warmth that washes over your when patting your dog, the taste of summers mango, etc. Savouring works to rewire your brain to attend to the feel good factors in everyday life.

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    Mindfulness can sometimes be perceived as complex or something that takes considerable time and energy. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of ‘got to do it right’ when trying the exercises, or feeling like a failure when you can’t find time (again) or when you get distracted (for the 5th time) during a one minute meditation task. Instead, what can work well is to incorporate mindfulness in the everyday. The four suggestions above are just that, suggestions, so pick and choose what may work for you. It might be easier to think of mindfulness as something that you can do anywhere anytime rather than something else you need to add to your already busy life.

    If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness and working on ways to incorporate mindfulness into your busy life, please contact us to book a session with a psychologist.

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