McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Dietitian, Founder and CEO

Taking time to practice mindfulness and be present in the moment can lead to lots of health benefits.

When you consider the idea of actively living in the moment—zero distractions, including your phone—it’s not necessarily a new concept, but it can be a tough one. During this digital age, we almost always have our phones nearby (or in our hands), and a single buzz or ring can bring us right out of focus.

Keeping your attention on just one thing at a time, though, can keep you more engaged in conversations with friends, it can help you eat slower (and maybe less), and it can help you ease tension. In fact, recent research says just one hour-long intro session can reduce anxiety and decrease stress on the arteries to help prevent high blood pressure. (1)

These benefits prove why it’s important to continuously practice mindful moments, which is why I’m talking about practicing mindfulness every single day.

Some of my favorite times to take a few minutes for mindful meditation is during daily tasks. Here, I share occasions you can easily squeeze in a few minutes just to be, so you de-stress and re-focus your attention on what’s happening around you.

What is Mindfulness?

Before we dive into exploring some of the ways to practicing mindfulness each and every day, let’s look at what the term “mindfulness” actually means.

Mindfulness is a practice that involves becoming more aware of the present moment by bringing your attention to your thoughts and senses. This can range from mindfulness meditation, which involves setting aside time each day to be still and listen to your body, or mindful eating, which is the practice of minimizing distractions during meals to pay more attention to how your food tastes, smells and looks.

In addition to improving mental health and clarity, mindfulness is also believed to reduce anxiety, decrease stress levels and improve physical health as well. Plus, it’s great for bringing together mind and body to develop a more balanced relationship with ourselves and the world around us.

There are plenty of other mindfulness exercises that you can practice to discover and strengthen the power of your subconscious mind, without forcing you to make a major overhaul of your daily routine. Instead, practicing these tips can help squeeze in some mindfulness therapy by setting aside just a few minutes per day.

6 Ways to Practice Mindfulness Every Day

1. During your morning routine

While you’re brushing your teeth, as you sip on a breakfast smoothie, or while you’re in the shower, really concentrate on what you’re doing. Think about the toothbrush running across your teeth, about the smell, taste, and feel of that smoothie in your mouth, or about the water running over you in the shower. Focus on each step, rather than thinking about all the other things you have to accomplish that day. It’s a much slower, relaxed start to your morning.

2. On your commute

Lots of people like to zone out on the way to work, whether that’s with music, podcasts or a book. I challenge you to try to tune into your surroundings at least one day this week. Look and observe the people around you, notice the smells and sights, take in the feel of the car you’re driving or the bus or train you’re riding to help strengthen your mind power.

3. As you walk

Walking meditations can be really de-stressing and super peaceful—especially if you take it out in nature. You might have heard of “forest bathing,” which basically involves meditating among trees, plants, and dirt. A review of this type of outdoor meditation finds that it can provide soothing and awe-inspiring benefits for the body, mind, and spirit, including stress relief (2).

4. As you eat

If you’ve never heard of eating mindfully, it’s time to test it out. Next time you’re hungry and reach for some food, stop whatever else you’re doing. Instead of eating in front of your computer or while you’re on the phone, try quieting the mind and focusing solely on the food you have in front of you. Really taste each flavor you put in your mouth, chew slowly, and pay attention to textures, too. This will help you get more in tune with your hunger levels and notice when you start feeling full.

5. Before bed

Take just a few minutes before you put your head on the pillow to sit in bed and just breathe. Focus on how your body feels and use this time to calm your mind, trying to get rid of negative thoughts from the day or any stressors still weighing on your shoulders. When you feel mentally at peace, you just might sleep better.

6. When you wake up

Wouldn’t your day start out so much better if you had an extra five minutes in bed—a few seconds to yourself, no phone buzzing or emailing rolling in? It’s time to make that happen. Getting up just five minutes earlier and pressing play on a guided meditation or taking time to focus on your breathing—taking long inhales and exhales—can really start your day on a calmer, less-crazed foot.

Using Your Breath and Mantras for Mindfulness

Here’s an easy mindfulness-based stress reduction strategy: simply sit down, close your eyes, and start taking big inhales an exhales through your nose. Focus on the breath moving in and out of your body. You can count, if that helps keep your mind stay in the moment. Another option: Say a mantra to yourself, stating each word on an inhale or exhale. A few of my favorites:

  • “Be here now.”
  • “Today is a good day.”
  • “I’m strong and confident.”
  • “You’ve got this.”

Try making your own mantra and repeating it to yourself when you’re feeling stressed, sad or anxious to implement mindfulness wherever you are. This is a simple way to practice mind over mood and start your day with a dose of positivity.

How Do You Apply This In Real Life?

If you’re looking for more support and ways to integrate more magnesium into your life, then check out our Wellness Coaching. We offer appointments virtually and all of our NS Wellness Coaches are professionally trained to give you expert guidance and practical plans for long-term health! Click here to take the client quiz.