Living Mindfully: Making time for you

28 April 2020

It’s often said that no two days are ever the same – and that may or may not ring true, given the current way of life when so much of what was familiar has changed for many of us.

As we move into another week of the UK’s response to Covid-19, we’re taking a look at some of the things we can all do to help ourselves and support our wellbeing in our day-to-day activities. And this is especially important now – so whether you’re a remote worker who’s coping with home schooling, or a key worker continuing to work onsite, take five minutes to read through to see what strikes a chord with you.

Mindfulness – is it really for me?


Mindfulness is defined as "knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment" (Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre). When we live mindfully, we notice the world around us, are alert to how our bodies and minds are feeling, and understand our behaviours and responses to life.

It’s all too easy to push through every day with our heads down (figuratively) focusing only on getting through. Take a moment and ask yourself if this sounds like you? Then think about how that can make you feel.

Some days it’s great and just the approach you need to get things done – others less so. Before you know it, the day, the week, the month have passed by and you’ve lost sight of you and what’s really going on around you.

Not living mindfully can mean we’re not being true to ourselves or experiencing life to its fullest…and who wants to live like that?

Read on to see some ways you can introduce mindfulness into your day.

The everyday


Take time throughout your day to pay attention to sounds around you, the texture of things you touch and the taste of any foods and drinks you consume. It sounds so basic to do this, right? Well it is, but what it does, is help move you away from being on autopilot and helps to bring your focus back to you.

Make the time


While it may seem that living mindfully is a full-time occupation, it doesn’t have to be. In the same way you schedule meetings, adopt the same approach to mindfulness and set aside dedicated time each day to allow you to focus on yourself and your day.

Test different times and ways you can do it, and find out when and what works best for you.

Same old


Always do the same thing? Try something different and see what happens in how you experience the world and the way that makes you feel. Something as simple as sitting in a different seat when on a conference call (for those of us working remotely) that faces a different direction to your preferred position can have quite an impact. Try it and see what happens.

Take mindfulness breaks


In the same vein as scheduling dedicated time in your day, you might also want to think about the benefit moving around every hour or so can bring. Doing this can help you refocus your mind and return refreshed to what you’re working on which can only be a good thing.

Eating


For many of us we go to work and just plough through our days without giving any real thought to the experience eating can provide.

Why not try practicing mindful eating?

Stepping away from the work station, and sitting down to eat, take small bites and chew your food thoroughly. You might just be amazed at how you begin to notice the flavours and textures so much more by taking this tiny step.

More formal practice


And of course, there a number of different ways that we can practice mindful living a little more formally – and again we’d recommend setting aside time each day for that.

Think about activities such as mindfulness meditation as a tool that can help you with focusing and paying attention to your thoughts, to understand your wellbeing better and acknowledge feelings that come up.

You could also consider yoga and tai-chi, as these aid focus through controlled movement and can help address feelings of anxiety and stress. And don’t forget that any of these can be done alone or through guided sessions.

Don’t get frustrated – It can take time


It can often take time to get into the “zone” when it comes to adopting and practicing a more mindful approach to living. If you’re following more formal routes, we suggest starting with short 5-10 minute sessions and work on it from there.

And remember – this is about you and what works for you. If one approach doesn’t work for you, don’t give up; just try different methods. It can take time, so don’t let frustration win.


Today’s Take Away


To help our minds and bodies function at their best, sometimes we need to take time to think about what we, as individuals and humans, need to make that happen.

So do it – make you a priority and tap into these small ways of living that can make a real difference.