As I shared last week, when most people think of being mindful, they think of meditation. That’s only one way to practice mindfulness, however. Being mindful comes down to being aware of the present moment, paying attention to where you are and what choices you are making.
You can be mindful in all aspects of your life, from food and word choices to shopping and social habits. Here are some areas where you can begin to incorporate more mindfulness into your everyday life:
We all have a choice of how we fuel our bodies, whether we choose food that feels as good as it tastes or grab whatever is convenient. We also choose from where we source our nourishment, and how much of it we consume. The alternatives above aren’t shared with judgment; they are simply to remind you how to bring awareness to the choices you’re making.
For more about mindful eating at the holidays and year round, check out Susan Weiss Barry’s 11 Tips for Mindful, Merry, Holiday (Or Any Time) Eating.
Word choice can have a surprisingly potent effect on our feelings. Have you ever noticed that when you criticize yourself or complain during an activity, it feels harder? For years now, I’ve been working on my personal word choice, namely on phrasing things more positively, turning thoughts like, “I don’t want to go out tonight, ” into, “I want to stay in tonight,” to focus my attention on what I do want versus what I don’t.
Recently, though, I noticed that I’d started writing “I’m tired of…” or “I’m sick of…” various things in my journal. That was eye opening because 1) I have some health issues right now and 2) Fatigue is one of the most obvious symptoms. So I wondered: Could my mental dialogue be affecting my health?
I don’t know the science behind this but I do know that, when I changed my words, my energy level changed. I am also taking medication, which of course could be contributing, but I like to think my words also matter. Instead I now write, “I am feeling tired…” to acknowledge that I’m having certain feelings right now, but those aren’t me. My feelings are just one part of me.
For more about word choice and mindfulness, check out Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald’s Reduce Stress and Really Thrive by Bringing Mindfulness to This.
Habits & Schedules
We all have natural tendencies, a way of moving in the world. Take a moment to slow down this holiday season—ok, maybe between Christmas and New Year—to think about the choices you make and the schedule you set. Does your schedule support or deplete you? Is it sustainable? Do you need to get out more or stay in more? Do you need more quiet time or more time with friends?
The end of the year is a wonderful time to assess the past and prepare for the future. Now might also be a good time to add some mindfulness to your habits and schedule. In case you’re already thinking you’re way too busy to do that or that you have no idea where to begin, check out Tracy Miller’s 5 Ways To Be Mindful No Matter How Crazy Your Schedule Is.
Also, I love this article by psychologist Elisha Goldstein about 7 Things Mindful People Do Differently and How to Get Started.
Black Friday is right around the corner and retailers are counting on you to blow your cash on the latest and greatest gadget—so that they can operate at a profit.
So, the mindful choice is: Will you or won’t you? Will you head out on Thanksgiving night and reward stores for opening up on a national holiday? Will you buy at big box stores or from your local mom and pop? Do you need to shop at all?
During the Holidays
As we enter the busy holiday season, being mindful becomes even more important and more challenging. Here are a few more folks writing about mindfulness at the holidays:
- 5 Ways to Infuse the Holidays with Mindfulness, by meditation teacher and psychotherapist Stephan Bodian
- 6 Mindful Ways to Minimize Holiday Stress, by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., associate editor at Psych Central
How are you practicing mindfulness today?