Mindfulness is something we hear a lot about these days. And for good reason, too — it’s a natural way of tuning into our mind and body and adopting a healthy coping skill that reduces stress, improves sleep, and elevates our emotional well-being.
Even though the principles of mindfulness are simple, getting started can still be intimidating to beginners.
We’re here to walk you through the basics of mindful living and how to get started. No judgment or expectations here — just self-love, kindness, and an appreciation for where you are now.
What does it mean to live mindfully?
Living mindfully means being present in the moment, without distractions, and being appreciative of our surroundings. Whether you’re eating lunch, going for a walk, or petting your dog, mindfulness is about being fully aware of that current action or activity.
Anything you do can be approached mindfully or mindlessly. So often in our daily lives, we are encumbered by our routines and skew toward the latter, not paying attention to what we are doing at all.
When’s the last time you took a lunch break and considered nothing but the lunch you were eating, without YouTube playing or scrolling on your phone? Have you ever really focused on the crunch of the chip you were eating, paying close attention to how it smelled, tasted, sounded, and felt?
The point of mindful living is being fully present in exactly what you’re doing, no matter how small the action.
How can I be a more mindful person?
The first step to being more mindful is simply starting. To live more mindfully, look inward — without judgment. Pay attention to your thoughts, and how you’re feeling physically and mentally.
Here are some ways you can be a more mindful person:
- Pay attention to your breathing.
- Connect with all five of your senses.
- Don’t worry about the struggles of yesterday or tomorrow — focus on the present.
- Process emotions rather than ignore them.
- Practice gratitude.
Even though practicing mindfulness is simple and approachable for everyone, it’s a little more challenging than it sounds — so don’t be hard on yourself as you begin. If you find your attention wandering frequently, that’s okay. Acknowledge when it happens, and re-focus. Your abilities will improve over time.
Mindfulness takes time and will be uncomfortable at first. Just keep working at it without being critical of yourself — you are doing wonderfully just by showing up and trying!
Tips for mindful living
Here are some great tips to start being a more mindful person:
- Practice mindfulness exercises: Incorporate simple mindfulness exercises into your daily routine, like body scans and five-finger breathing.
- How to do a body scan: Get into a comfortable position (lying down or seated), close your eyes, and bring awareness to your body. Take a few deep breaths, and feel the weight of your body pushing against the Earth. Next, focus on your feet and toes, and what they feel like. Pay attention to any areas of tension and focus on anywhere that is uncomfortable. Move up your body, acknowledging your legs, torso, arms, shoulders — all the way up to your neck, bringing full awareness to every part of your body. Once you have completed your body scan, slowly open your eyes and mindfully bring awareness back to your surroundings. Watch how:
- How to do five-finger breathing: Place your index finger on the pinky of your other hand. Breathe in, and use your index finger to trace from the bottom of your pinky to the top. Breathing out, trace from the top of your pinky to the bottom. Do this finger by finger, until you have gone through every finger on your hand. Watch how:
- Listen mindfully: Don’t just wait for your turn to speak, but really listen to what the other person is saying.
- Meditate: Guided breathing meditations are a great way for beginners to start meditating. Try a meditation app like Calm or Breethe to practice meditating and reduce stress and anxiety.
- Eat mindfully: Pay attention to every bite and be fully aware as you eat. Notice how you’re feeling, and let your body guide how much to eat depending on how hungry you are.
- Walk mindfully: Go for a walk without headphones. Pay attention to how the sun feels on your arms, the sounds and smells, and the breeze blowing your hair. Be completely present in the moment as you walk.
- Keep a gratitude journal: Every day, jot down a few things you’re grateful for. Whether it’s having food to eat, a loving partner, or even a lesson you learned — be thankful for what you have and recognize that it’s something many do not share.
Mindfulness is a practice. It takes time to build the muscles, so be patient with yourself. Once you understand the principles and start incorporating aspects of mindful living into your day-to-day, you will soon be able to enjoy the benefits of reduced stress, increased focus, better mental health and emotional wellbeing, and a stronger immune system.
Here are some more ways you can show more mindfulness, gratitude, and kindness to yourself:
- Simple tips on how to live more mindfully this year
- Why self-care isn’t selfish — and how to stop thinking it is