Sometimes, the simplest things can have the most dramatic impact on our wellbeing – here we tell you how to transform your day with simple, yet highly effective mindfulness habits.
We are creatures of habit, which can be both good and bad. Good because we can always develop new, healthy habits that stay with us for lifetime. And bad because bad habits are hard to shake and sometimes we even find comfort in them. Being mindful – truly present in the moment – helps you to understand how some things make you feel and why, and teaches you to work with your mind. Tapping into our love of habits, we can also create mindfulness habits that punctuate our days and remind us to stay present and focus on the important stuff. These mindfulness rituals can be truly powerful and boost your daily life like nothing else.
Cultivating mindfulness will help you to process difficult situations and make them easier, it will make you enjoy the good things more, improve your training, and enable you to deal with everyday life better, from the moment you wake up till the moment you fall asleep. One of the most effective tools in building new habits is to use triggers in your daily life that will remind you to do what you intended to do. For each of the mindfulness habits below, there is a trigger suggestion but of course, you can choose something else.
1. Gratitude moment
When you wake up or are brushing your teeth in the morning, think of three things you are grateful for. Far too often, we focus on the negative, worry about things we have to do or simply stress about what ifs, and we completely forget about all the good things in our lives.
Research shows that a simple gratitude practice helps us to appreciate what we have and makes us feel gratitude more easily. This then translates into your attitude to daily tasks and interactions with others.
Some people prefer to do a mental gratitude list, whilst others like to write it down – either on paper or even as notes on their phone. If your mornings are hectic, do this before you go to sleep. There’s no best time for gratitude but in general, starting or finishing your day with it is great because it’s a good way to begin or end the day and you’re most likely to remember to do it at these times.
Trigger suggestion: Journal or diary next to your bed
2. Set an intention for the day ahead
It’s common to set an intention for Yoga practice but it’s also very useful to set an intention for the whole day. It can be something simple like “I will be more patient” or “I won’t let myself get angry about small things” or it can be more complex. Just remember that intentions should serve as positive motivation – they shouldn’t be unrealistic goals that you’re likely to fail and then feel bad about!
Set your intention at some point in the morning – it can be while you’re making the bed, when you’re dressing or just after your gratitude practice. If you make a habit out of it, it’ll become automatic and will help set a positive tone to the day. Try to remember and remind yourself of your intention a few times a day.
Trigger suggestion: Note on the bathroom mirror or a reminder on your phone
3. Enjoy your meal
When we have time, it’s easy to just sit back, relax, and make an occasion out of a simple meal. In our daily schedules, however, there’s often either little time or we multitask and eat while doing something else. Taking a moment to eat and do nothing else but enjoy the meal is actually quite easy. It doesn’t have to take ages, simply savoring the food, appreciating all the ingredients and paying attention to what you’re eating is enough. Even if it’s just five minutes, staying present throughout those 300 seconds is priceless – it makes you mindful of what you’re doing, creates positive emotions, and it disrupts your mind’s fretting between what was and what will be.
Trigger suggestion: Getting ready to eat should do the trick!
4. Walk mindfully
All of us walk somewhere every day. Sometimes a lot, sometimes very little – if you’re in quarantine, it may just be walking from your bedroom to your kitchen. It doesn’t matter where you are or how far you go, taking a moment to walk mindfully will do wonders for your monkey mind. Also called walking meditation, mindful walking means walking slowly while paying attention to all your physical sensations – the touch of your feet on the floor, temperature, texture of the surface – and your surroundings – the sounds, smells, light. The point of this is to bring your mind to an activity we often do mindlessly, and this also brings you to the present moment. When your mind wanders, bring it back to the physical sensations.
Trigger suggestion: Place a small pebble in your pocket that will remind you to walk mindfully whenever you touch it
5. Practice Yoga or meditate, even if just for five minutes
You may have your training, work, family and fun schedule all maxed out but finding a few minutes for a daily Yoga or mindfulness practice is something all of us can do on most days. Of course, if you can dedicate an hour to your practice, do it! But if you can’t, five minutes is better than nothing and you may be surprised just how much that daily dose can upgrade your wellbeing. Try our 10-minute full body mobility break or simply sit still and breathe, using one of the Yogic breathing techniques.
Trigger suggestion: Depends on your schedule – try to find time that suits you and set a reminder on your phone or use a Yoga app that will do it for you!
6. Dedicate a few minutes to a self-care activity
This can be anything that is important, interesting or entertaining for you – it may be reading, writing, drawing, taking a bath, having a chat with a friend, running around the block, playing music, etc. The important aspect is that it should be something that makes you feel good, gives you a break but doesn’t make you ‘switch off’ (for example watching TV or playing a video game). It can be creative but doesn’t have to be – it just has to be enjoyable for you!
Trigger suggestion: Write a note in your daily schedule or diary that says FUN, or, if reading, writing or drawing is your thing, simply put a book or notepad next to your bed or on your desk to remind you to use it
7. Listen or read mindfully
It’s hard to get your mind to fully focus and not multitask but it may transform your relationships! You know how frustrating it is when you’re talking to someone and can tell they’re not really paying attention or are interrupting you all the time? Or when someone’s talking to you and you’re already forming opinions and ready to jump in before they’ve finished speaking? Try to truly listen when you’re speaking with someone, taking in all they’re saying, giving them the attention you’d like to receive back.
Try this with written communication too – do not translate someone’s words based on how you’re feeling at that moment but simply read the email or note to extract the information and try to leave personal impressions aside (unless, of course, it’s actually insulting). This is hard! But way too often conflicts and misunderstandings arise from our interpretation of situations rather than from what the other person says or does. Mindful listening and reading can greatly reduce these issues and improve your work and private relationships in the process.
Trigger suggestion: Any conversation you happen to have!
All these mindfulness rituals are small things that don’t take much time but they require a little bit of effort on your part. Once you make them a part of your everyday life, you’ll reap the benefits. As we highlighted in the introduction to mindfulness blog, being mindful retrains your brain so you become better at problem solving, you’ll be able to focus better, you’ll get less stressed by daily ups and downs, and it also helps in treating anxiety and depression. When it comes to athletic training, mindfulness techniques help to improve your performance, reduce the risk of injuries and lower performance anxiety. Despite all these long-term benefits, mindfulness is also great to cultivate simply because it will make you feel better in yourself – and that can be the biggest benefit of them all!