You have probably heard of mindfulness as it has become more well-known over the past couple of years. But do you know what it is?
Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment.
Mindfulness can help with:
- difficulty focusing
- emotional regulation: it helps put space between yourself and your reactions, allowing you to better control your emotions
- pain management (including general muscle and joint-related pain, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia)
How to Practice Mindfulness
You don’t have to sit in a dark room with your eyes closed to practice mindfulness, you can practice it during daily activities such as walking, doing housework, brushing your teeth, drinking your morning coffee or doing a puzzle. The main point to remember is that you’re focusing on the present moment, rather than letting your mind wander to thinking about what you need to do later, or something that happened the day before.
Focus on the Present Moment
- What can you see, hear, smell, feel, touch and taste?
- Can you feel the air on your face?
- Can you feel the clothes on your skin?
- What is your breathing like at the moment? Is it fast, slow, deep, shallow?
Try not to be judgmental about any of these things. Aim to avoid seeing them as negative or positive things. Simply notice them. Also, try not to judge yourself if you find your mind wandering. Simply, bring your focus back to the present moment.
Types of Mindfulness
- Mindful meditation: as described above. This can be done sitting quietly, or while doing daily activities.
- Mindful breathing: this type of mindfulness specifically focuses on your breathing, including what it feels like, where you feel it in your body and what it sounds like.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: this involves tensing, then relaxing different muscle groups in your body. You can start with tensing the muscles in your face and working down to your feet, or vice versa. This is particularly helpful if you hold tension in your body.
How to Incorporate Mindfulness into Your Daily Routine
- Set aside some time in your day to practice. You might find first thing in the morning works best for you, or before you go to bed.
- It might be difficult in the beginning, so you might want to start with practicing for 2-5 minutes, then slowly increase as it becomes easier.
- You can practice mindfulness on your own, or you could use a YouTube video or mindfulness app such as Smiling Mind or Headspace