How To Become More Mindful

As most of us slog through our days working, paying the bills, raising our families and maintaining our hectic lives, it’s a common occurrence to wake up one day and realize that you’re 35, 45, 55 or older and wonder what happened. You’ve probably heard the advice from old people to “stop and smell the roses.” Being “mindful” means that you are aware of your surroundings and all of your senses-in other words, you’re fully conscious and fully aware. Here are some tips on how to get closer to mindfulness.

Carve out some quiet time for yourself

It can be hard to jump right into meditation if you’ve never done it before, so start with a minute or two of quieting your mind and concentrating on just your breathing. Do this every day and over time, you’ll find it easier to get in this quiet zone.

Block out noise

Think of the last time you tried to relax, have a meal or take a shower. Did you have a hard time doing it because you were thinking about work the next day, or meeting your friends after work, or calling the plumber about that leaky faucet? Are you just going through the motions? All this noise takes your senses away from being “in the moment.” The next time you have a meal, don’t just scarf it down. Savor each bite and eat more slowly. The same goes for a shower or bath. Don’t just rush through because you’ve got a million things to do. Delegate, push back or cancel so you can have quality time to spend on yourself.

Don’t inhale your food

Try your best to savor your mealtimes, whether they’re at work or home. Many times, work limits your ability to slow down and eat mindfully, but maybe prepare your food at home and drive to a local park or quiet neighborhood nearby where you can park and eat while the sun shines through your window. Just getting out of the office can do wonders for your outlook. At home, enlist your family’s help after dinner so you can unwind. It will give you more time to taste and appreciate food that’s thoughtfully prepared.

Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night

If you’re working 10 hours a day and commuting another 1-2 hours, then have to spend time helping your kids with homework, do laundry, prep for tomorrow’s workday, cook dinner, clean up, shower, then get ready for bed, guess what? Something’s got to give; and if you’re not getting enough sleep, it will put your mind and body into a fog and your cells won’t be able to regenerate properly. Hire a maid, hire a tutor for your kids or enlist whatever assistance you need so your health doesn’t suffer. 

And make sure to turn off all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed. The light that devices emit promote mental alertness and wakefulness.

Get back to nature

This includes spending time with your pets. Few living things are better than pets as reminders to live in the “now” and savor every moment.

If you’re still finding it hard to shut down, shut off and shut up, at least try being mindful once a day. Really listen to your friend’s problem and just be there for her. Or sit on the bed and fold warm clothes right out of the dryer. Once you can do one or two activities without letting the craziness of life and multitasking creep into them, expand. And hopefully then, the years will pass with you remembering them mindfully instead of wondering where the time went.