Mindfulness activities to ditch the autopilot and take control of your life
Technology has given us the ability to connect with people we would have never been able to back in the day. Between social media and even this blog, we’re able to ‘meet’ people like never before and it is a really cool thing.
However, it also seems to take us away from the present moment.
The here and now.
We are so consumed by our own technology that oftentimes we aren’t paying attention to what is right in front of us.
I know I am guilty of grabbing my phone whenever I’m not doing anything. To avoid being alone with my thoughts.
A common argument in our household is my partner not hearing me when he is on his phone watching videos. (Although even though I won’t admit it to him he isn’t the only one that does it.)
Smartphones have given us the ability to have everything at our fingertips but it has also taken away some of life’s little moments that make it so special.
And with this era of technology also comes an era of hustle and grind. We’re overstimulated and constantly on the go.
The autopilot phenomenon
Do you know the feeling when you’re driving somewhere and before you know it you’re there? You don’t even remember the drive?
Or you are supposed to be going to the gym but you find yourself at Target?
And you just tell yourself that you were on autopilot, a little concerned that you could zone out that easily.
While this is normal since our brains are constantly creating these shortcuts for habits and things we do on the regular, it is kind of freaky that we can be in this state of consciousness where we aren’t fully aware of what is going on around us.
But who can blame you? With all those thoughts that are living in your head rent-free and that never-ending to-do list, we don’t have time to relax let alone think about that drive we’ve done a million times.
We’re so busy rushing to the next thing or looking at the latest Tik Tok that we are forgetting to stop and smell the roses.
However, for our own mental well-being, it is so important to stop and take a moment to just be. To notice your surrounding and to live in the present moment.
And that’s where mindfulness comes into play.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment. To not worry about the past or the future. The practice of mindfulness is the daily activities that you do to get your brain out of its overthinking frenzy and back into the present moment.
I know this is hard to do but if you’re able to focus on the now that’s when you’re able to really hone in on those feelings of yours or decipher what is going on in a nonjudgemental way. It is one of the best ways to have less stress in your daily life.
It may sound a little woo woo but mindfulness is really just a practice of self-awareness. With self-awareness, you’re able to gain more clarity around your wants and needs and what you need to do to live a life you’re obsessed with.
We’re so distracted by our smartphones or the million things on our to-do list that we’re out of tune with who we are to our core. That’s why it is so important to practice mindfulness.
To know who you are, what makes you tick.
To know your limits and what you need to do for self-care to recharge your batteries (since that looks different for everyone),
Noticing your surroundings and checking in with your thoughts and feelings are ways to practice mindfulness.
Why should you practice mindfulness?
How many times do you grab your phone and mindlessly scroll through Instagram or check your email for the millionth time? I know I am guilty of this. However, always being on your electronic devices or distracting yourself from feeling your feelings leads you to feel even more disconnected and unfulfilled because you aren’t getting to the root cause.
You’re just avoiding it by keeping yourself busy. But you can’t bury those thoughts and feelings forever, they will come out and play in a way you most likely won’t like.
But if you practice mindfulness and build up that self-care toolbox then you’re able to become more resilient and tackle life’s obstacles. You’ll be able to identify the root cause quicker and with more ease.
To be able to be in control of your mind is a powerful thing. Otherwise, you’re randomly crying when you’re out running errands because you spilled your iced coffee.
So to cover the array of benefits quickly, Healthline listed the below benefits:
- Improves sleep
- Increase brain function
- Improve mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms
- Increase in wellbeing
- Decrease in chronic pain
Which is a lot of things. It is crazy how much your mindset can affect every aspect of your life. I told you that those repressed thoughts and feelings would come out in ways that are unenjoyable. Things like chronic pain and poor mental health are prime examples.
So what do you have to lose? Taking those 5 minutes to practice mindfulness can have a profound effect on your well-being.
Tips for practicing mindfulness
If you’re interested in starting a mindfulness routine, the good news is that it is easy to get started. There are so many different ways to be more mindful in your everyday life.
Here are a few tips when you’re just getting started:
Things get done when there’s a deadline. Otherwise, we push it off and tell ourselves we’ll get to it. Then all of a sudden, it is the end of the day and you’re bed is calling your name.
So schedule your mindfulness practice. Whether it is part of your morning routine, your daily walk on your lunch break, or you’re going to be more mindful while doing the dishes, being specific about when you’ll intentionally practice it will help you actually do it.
Consistency is key
Becoming more mindful is going to take some time. After all, your brain is wired to analyze and think so it isn’t going to be natural to sit down and just be present in the moment.
Especially if the first thing you do when there is a moment of silence is pick up your phone.
So I wouldn’t start out by saying you’re going to meditate for an hour. It just isn’t going to happen. You’re going to get bored or tired or start thinking about all the things you have to do.
Instead, plan to do whatever mindfulness activity you chose for 5 minutes on a regular basis. That is going to be more effective than one hour of practice once a week.
Once you master those 5 minutes of daily practice, then decide if you want to increase the time.
Remember, it is a journey so there is no rush to the finish line.
If you’re not sure where to start, there are a lot of apps out there nowadays that can guide you through mindfulness practice.
Some examples include:
- Mindfulness Coach
- Insight Timer
I know, I know I’ve spent this whole time bashing smartphones and how they are taking away the human connection but there are some good things about smartphones.
Just make sure your notifications are silent when you do it.
Accept that your mind may wander
It is natural for your mind to wander at first. If your mind wanders, just take the moment to acknowledge your own thoughts and gently guide them back to the task you’re focusing on.
Don’t beat yourself up otherwise, you won’t reap the positive effects of mindfulness.
Remember, perfectionism doesn’t exist, and making mistakes is a good thing. It means that you are stepping outside your comfort zone.
10 Mindfulness activities to increase mindfulness
Technically, this could include almost any activity in your daily routine as long as it is done with intention. There are so many simple ways to practice mindfulness, it can be as easy as being more mindful when you’re at the grocery store or during your self-care routine.
However, if you’re new to this whole idea of mindfulness, here are some ideas:
The most obvious one is meditation so I figured I’ll get this one out of the way. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with mindfulness but meditation can be a really powerful tool.
A mindful meditation practice has been proven to have so many positive benefits that everyone should give it a try. Just like anything in the mindset realm, consistent meditation practice is key to being able to see a true change.
2. Listen to calming music
Music can be a great way to relax and get into the right headspace.
For mindfulness, pick some peaceful music and actually listen to it. Hear the different instruments and let the music run through your veins. Notice how it makes you feel.
3. Mindful eating
The first step of mindful eating is to not eat in front of the TV or while looking at your phone.
Actually, sit down at the table and pay attention to what you’re putting into your mouth. Take your time chewing the food and really enjoy the different flavors.
If you aren’t the cook in the family like me, maybe take a moment to try to guess what’s in your meal.
4. Check in with yourself
Taking a moment to see how you really are is a great place to start on your mindfulness journey. You can check in by evaluating the physical sensations of your entire body or just checking in with your thoughts. Pay close attention to how your body feels.
Taking the time to appreciate all the good things in your life can be a form of mindfulness. When we’re constantly on the go, sometimes we forget about all the little things that are so awesome.
6. Deep breaths
Taking deep intentional breaths is a great way to ground yourself. Breathing sounds so simple but deep breathing can help you get back to the present moment. It is such a simple practice but it can have a huge impact on your stress levels and calm your mind.
I love journaling as a way to get my thoughts out of my head and stop overanalyzing them. It is a way for me to be more present because I give myself the time to work through my thoughts and feelings.
8. Observe your surroundings
Instead of looking at your phone when waiting for a friend for dinner, how about you sit and observe your surroundings? Notice the smells… the sounds… people watch and see all the amazing things happening around you.
You could also do this when walking. Mindful walking can be a great place to start since you can easily focus your full attention on your surroundings since it’ll change up as you move along your walk.
Moving your body intentionally through yoga is a great way to practice mindfulness and show yourself what your body is capable of. Yoga has been around for centuries as a way to calm your mind and fuel your soul.
Don’t worry, there are some simple exercises for those who are new to yoga to give it a try. An added bonus is the increase in strength and flexibility.
10. Mindful interactions
And last but certainly not least, take the time to be really present in conversations with your loved ones by practicing mindful listening. A lot of time when we’re talking with someone we’re thinking of what we’re going to say next.
But next time, really listen to them. Notice how they’re responding and what their body language is saying. Remember that you’re focusing on them so don’t make their reaction about you. Be 100% focused on them and show them that they matter. They deserve to be heard and understood.
This can really transform your relationships and it is something that I want to be more intentional in doing when I’m spending time with others.
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be practiced at any point of the day but a mindful practice can have a huge impact on your mental health.
It gives you the tools to process difficult emotions and deal with stressful situations. You’ll be able to tackle anything that comes your way because you’ve done the inner work to understand yourself more fully.
The more time you take to slow down and be really present, the more you will feel fulfilled and enjoy life.
Until next time,
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