M is for mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of observing what is going on around you. While it can be attached with a meditation process, mindfulness, in its essence, is merely being present in the moment. Below, you’ll find four reasons why mindfulness is an excellent practice to implement into your life.

Mindfulness Reduces Anxiety and Stress

Mindfulness is all about focusing on what is happening around you in the moment. Feelings like shame, guilt, and regret focus on our pasts, while fear, anxiety, and worry stem from focusing on the unknowns about the future. When we force ourselves to focus on the day, hour, and moment, we are forced to evaluate our current standing. Often, contentment and perspective result from a healthy practice of mindfulness.

Mindfulness Increases Productivity

Distraction breeds unproductively

Another aspect of mindfulness is the act of focusing all our attention on one thing at a time. SO MANY studies have been done assessing the effectiveness of multi-tasking, and every single one has found that it decreases focus and productivity.

When we practice mindfulness at work or school, we free up our entire brains for one individual task – which makes the task that much easier. I am constantly telling my tenth grader (whom I homeschool), to shut off her music and put her phone on ‘do not disturb’ while doing schoolwork. Our minds struggle to grasp new, complex concepts when we’re singing the words to Bohemian Rhapsody or constantly getting pulled away by phone notifications! On days when she and I both discipline ourselves to uninterrupted focus on our work, we’re often done hours ahead of schedule.

Mindfulness Improves Enjoyment

So often, distractions are pulling our attention in a dozen different directions. Even when we’re doing something enjoyable like family game night, we can fail to make good memories or fully enjoy the moment when we fail to be fully present.

When we force ourselves to look around, take in the faces of our loved ones, and absorb the goodness of the moment, our enjoyment levels increase. When we’re merely running on autopilot, and thinking about tomorrow’s work day, the game night fun will inevitably be a bust.

Mindfulness Improves Relationships

Mindfulness improves relationships

One area of our lives we should really fight for mindfulness is in our relationships. I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have said, “I already told you this!” to each other. Clearly one, or both, of us weren’t listening the first time.

Distractedness makes the other person feel unimportant, and like they aren’t a priority. I’ve started halting my conversation every time my husband looks at his phone while I’m talking to him. It’s my way of “training him” to be present (it’s also nice to not have to repeat myself)!

Attentiveness and mindfulness with our children are also very important. Interestingly, some people say that just 10 minutes a day of focused attention on your child can improve your relationship, improve their behavior, and reduce their stress levels. That sounds like a win to me!

How to Focus on the Moment

Increase productivity with mindfulness

There’s a method commonly used in anxiety treatment called “The 5 Senses Method.” It’s simply an exercise in grounding yourself by using your 5 senses to bring you out of your spiraling mind, and back into the world. This is also an excellent tool to use when first starting your mindfulness practice. It goes like this:

  1. Observe five things around you that you can see. I encourage you to gaze out a distance. Right now I can see the wind blowing through the leaves in the trees outside my office window.
  2. Observe four things around you that you can touch. Touch them and revel in the sensation. My AirPods case is soft, flocked velvet.
  3. Observe three things that you can hear. I can hear my wind chimes on my porch.
  4. Observe two things that you can smell in your environment. Can’t smell anything in your environment? Smell your skin or hair! I can smell the essential oils in my diffuser.
  5. Observe one thing that you can taste. Even if it’s just the stale taste of your last meal. I can taste my lip balm.

Don’t rush through these exercises. The goal is to slow down your mind and bring you back to a place of grounding and focus. Then, choose one task to focus on and practice your new mindfulness.

About the Author

Melanie Lemus is the Communications Specialist for Vision to Purpose providing self-help, business, and career-focused topics. She lives in Virginia with her wonderful husband and witty daughter. Melanie loves her freedom – in Christ and America. She’s passionate about natural health and homeopathy, and she’s always down to take a hike through the mountains.

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