Jul. 5. 2018
Feel Amazing
McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder

Taking time to simply be present can lead to lots of health benefits, particularly stress relief.

When you consider the idea of actively living in the moment—zero distractions, including your phone—it’s not necessarily a new concept, but can be a tough one. During this digital age, we almost always have our phones nearby (or on our wrists), and the simple buzz or light up brings 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 easily help you ease tension. In fact, recent research says just one hour-long intro session can reduce anxiety (1). These benefits prove why it’s important to continuously practice mindful moments, so it comes as second nature, and why I’m talking about practicing mindful moments 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.

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 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 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 a.m.

2. On Your Commute

Lots of people like to zone out on the way to work, whether that’s with music or 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.

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, which can really lift your mood. 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, 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 as well.

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 just focusing 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

An easy way to start practicing mindful meditation is to just 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.”

Do you have a favorite mantra? Do you have a favorite time to meditate or a positive experience with meditation? I want to hear from you! Share all about it below or on social media, using #nutritionstripped.

References:

  1. Experimental Biology 2018. (2018, April). Even a single mindfulness meditation session can reduce anxiety: People with anxiety show reduced stress on the arteries after 1-hour introductory session.
  2. Margaret M. Hansen, Reo Jones, and Kirsten Tocchini. (2017, August.) Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review.