As the world begins to recover from this year's COVID-19 outbreak, more and more of us are trying to get our lives back on track. The term 'business as usual' is coming up a lot. But, after months of isolation and lockdown, getting 'back to normal' isn't as easy as we thought. If you're feeling stressed or a little fatigued, these mindfulness tips will help you clear your mind so you can focus on the job at hand. Buddha says, "Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think." These top 10 mindfulness tips will help you think more positively and live more meaningfully.
Top 10 tips to help you be more mindful
1). Practice meditation
This is one of the core values of mindfulness. And one of the hardest practices to master. If you're new to meditation, start small. Meditate for a few minutes first thing in the morning, or on the bus on the way to work. It doesn't have to be long. While you're getting the hang of it, try guided meditation sessions through an app or podcast. There are loads to choose from.
2). Pay attention
Another key principle of mindfulness is really being there. If someone is talking to you, really listen to what they're saying. Pay attention to everything from the weather to what the news reader is saying on the radio. Rather than having the TV on in the background, set aside an hour in the evening to watch something and concentrate on what you're watching. You'll find most things become that much more enjoyable when you're paying attention.
3). Learn to let go
Stoicism is a key element of mindfulness. Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus says, "Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle. Some things are within your control. And some things are not." By understanding this idea, we can learn to let go of worries or outcomes that we have no control over. In the face of COVID-19, this notion has become crucial. How many hours do we spend agonising over issues beyond our influence? And wouldn't it be nice to get those hours back?
4). Get outdoors
Spending time in nature is seen as a natural healing and calming technique. Fortunately for us in South Africa, there are a multitude of beautiful places to explore or spend the day. And, if you can't get to a peaceful forest, quiet coastline or rugged mountain, simply spend a few minutes walking around the garden. Or, find a spot under a tree close to where you work where you can have your lunch. Every little bit of outdoor therapy helps, and will add to a more mindful daily experience.
5). Get moving
If you struggle to clear your mind through meditation, listen to this mindfulness tip. Exercise helps you get out of your head and calm your mind. When you're burning calories - whether it's on the treadmill, at the gym, or in a yoga studio - it's hard to think about anything else. While you're working out, think about the sensations in your body and concentrate on the exercise you're doing. With mindfulness, it's important to prioritise body and mind.
6). Cut down on screen time
How many of us open our eyes in the morning and immediately reach for our phone to start scrolling. What starts as catching up on today's headlines quickly turns into 30 minutes spent trawling through social media. With so much information available online and at our fingertips, setting boundaries for screen time is essential. If you really struggle to resist technology, set an alarm. Or limit yourself to a few minutes in the morning, and a few minutes at home after work. Whatever routine works for you. But remember to look up!
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7). Be in the moment
With all of us living white hot lives, this can also be a challenging principle to master. But, being able to be present and appreciative of what's happening around you at any given time, is said to increase life's joy tenfold. This mindfulness tip is all about savouring the process, whether it's drinking a cup of coffee or catching up with a friend on Skype. When you're really present, time tends to slow down as you take in every sight and sound around you.
8). Focus on food
Mindful eating is often recommended, but seldom practised. As we get busier, stopping for a meal almost becomes an inconvenience. And it's 2pm before we've consumed anything beyond a snack bar or biscuit. But it's important to concentrate on what we put in our bodies, because food is fuel after all. So try to put down the report you're reading while you have lunch. And sit down at the dinner table rather than eating off your lap in front of the TV. Food is there to be enjoyed, but you need to be open to enjoying it.
9). Try not to multi-task
Reports say you're 50% more likely to make errors if you're working on more then one thing at a time. And those tasks could take you 50% longer. It may seem like the long way of doing things, but 'uni-tasking' is actually much more effective and time efficient. You'll be more mindful of what you're trying to accomplish if there's only one task at hand. Your brain doesn't always love switching gears.
10). Ask for help
Learning to be more mindful is challenging. And, as with any new skill, you're likely to need a bit of extra help. Fortunately, the world of mindfulness is overflowing with insightful books or podcasts as well as interesting and easily-accessible applications. Here, you'll find loads of mindfulness tips that'll help you learn more about yourself as you go. All you have to do now is start.