5 Ways to Build Mindfulness Into Your Everyday Life

The feel­ing of your lungs inhal­ing and exhal­ing, the sound of a click­ing key­board, the tex­ture of the soft car­pet on your feet — you prob­a­bly expe­ri­ence sen­sa­tions like these every day. 

And yet, when is the last time you stopped to notice these small, but mean­ing­ful, moments? 

If you’re like many, you go about your day with­out stop­ping to notice the details about how your body feels and what’s going on around you. But pay­ing atten­tion to these details can actu­al­ly ben­e­fit your men­tal health. 

This is called mind­ful­ness, or the prac­tice of being ful­ly aware of what’s hap­pen­ing in the moment inside your body and with­in your sur­round­ings, then accept­ing them with­out judg­ment. Mind­ful­ness has been shown to improve your men­tal health by reduc­ing stress, which more than half of Amer­i­can adults report expe­ri­enc­ing every day. It can also ease anx­i­ety and depres­sion, among oth­er men­tal health benefits. 

May is Men­tal Health Aware­ness month — a time to focus on improv­ing your men­tal well-being. One way to do this is by build­ing mind­ful­ness into your life. Here are 5 ways to incor­po­rate mind­ful­ness into your dai­ly routine. 

1. Notice your breathing.

Unless you’ve just fin­ished a tough work­out or are recov­er­ing from a cold, you prob­a­bly don’t notice your breath­ing most days. You take about 20,000 breaths every day — each of which is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to pause and prac­tice mind­ful breathing. 

Mind­ful deep breathing is pay­ing atten­tion to the sen­sa­tion of the breath com­ing in and out of the body, notic­ing the breath, how and where you feel it in the body with­out try­ing to change it.

To prac­tice mind­ful deep breathing: 

  1. Sit or lie down in a calm location. 
  2. Close your eyes, and place one hand on your stom­ach and the oth­er on your chest. 
  3. Slow­ly take a deep breath in through your nose — and hold it for a few seconds. 
  4. Slow­ly exhale the breath through your mouth. 
  5. Repeat this cycle, notic­ing how your hands move with each breath and how your body reacts. 
  6. Con­tin­ue for about five to ten min­utes or until you are deeply relaxed. 

2. Do a body scan” each day. 

There are a lot of sen­sa­tions going on in your body at any giv­en moment. From an itch on your leg to the way your heart is beat­ing, all of these feel­ings can bring aware­ness to your body. By men­tal­ly scan­ning your­self, you bring aware­ness to every sin­gle part of your body, notic­ing any aches, pains, ten­sion, or gen­er­al discomfort.

To deeply notice what’s going on in your body, do a body scan each day. Take the time to notice the feel­ings in your body from your head to your toes. Pay atten­tion to small sen­sa­tions, like an itch or tin­gling. Don’t view these feel­ings as good or bad. Instead, sim­ply notice them as a part of your body. 

3. Prac­tice mind­ful eating.

Mul­ti­ple times a day, you feed your body with nutri­tious food and drink. But when is the last time you real­ly paid atten­tion to the tastes, tex­tures, and sen­sa­tions dur­ing mealtime? 

Mind­ful eat­ing is an approach to food that focus­es on your sen­su­al aware­ness of the food you eat and your expe­ri­ence of the food. 

Incor­po­rat­ing mind­ful eat­ing prac­tices has been shown to have ben­e­fits for indi­vid­u­als including:

  • A renewed sense of hunger and fullness.
  • Weight loss man­age­ment and maintenance.
  • Improved self-esteem.
  • A sense of empowerment

Begin by notic­ing true hunger cues. Instead of eat­ing when you’re sup­posed to” or when you feel bored or stressed, eat when your body is telling you it’s hun­gry. One trick is to ask your­self if you would eat an apple (or anoth­er healthy food). If not — but you’re reach­ing for a bag of chips — you might not tru­ly be hun­gry.

When you decide it’s time to eat:

  1. Sit at a table — not in front of the tele­vi­sion or at your desk while work­ing; min­i­mize distractions. 
  2. Slow­ly take small bites. 
  3. Pay atten­tion to every aspect of your food, includ­ing its taste, tex­ture, smell, and appearance. 

4. Try mind­ful med­i­ta­tion.

Med­i­ta­tion has long been a way to qui­et the mind and reduce stress. By adding a mind­ful twist, you can ben­e­fit even more from this practice. 

Mind­ful med­i­ta­tion has two parts — atten­tion and accep­tance. It begins by focus­ing on what’s hap­pen­ing in the moment, includ­ing your breath, thoughts, and phys­i­cal sen­sa­tions. It con­tin­ues with accept­ing these thoughts and feel­ings with­out judg­ment. Instead, you note their exis­tence and then let them float away. 

While you can prac­tice mind­ful med­i­ta­tion on your own by sit­ting qui­et­ly and pay­ing atten­tion to your thoughts and phys­i­cal feel­ings, you may ben­e­fit from sup­port from an out­side source, such as a med­i­ta­tion app or a ses­sion with a behav­ioral health spe­cial­ist. Once you get the hang of mind­ful med­i­ta­tion, you can prac­tice it any­time, anywhere. 

5. Pay atten­tion to the world around you.

As you go about your day, there’s a flur­ry of activ­i­ty going on around you. From the sound of cars dri­ving by to the smell of fresh spring air, these sen­sa­tions are worth tak­ing the time to notice. 

You can prac­tice mind­ful­ness at any moment of the day by paus­ing to pay atten­tion to the world you live in. Note these sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and touch­es with­out judg­ment. Acknowl­edge them as they are and how they make you feel. Then, release them. 

Mind­ful­ness as a Part of Your Dai­ly Routine

Mind­ful­ness is not a one-time prac­tice. Rather, it’s a way of liv­ing you can build into near­ly every aspect of your life. From your morn­ing rou­tine to your meals to every moment in between, you can be mind­ful of what’s going on around you and how it’s impact­ing you. 

In turn, mind­ful­ness can help you feel engaged in your day-to-day life and give a much-need­ed boost to your over­all well-being. Many peo­ple who prac­tice mind­ful­ness report an increased abil­i­ty to relax, a greater enthu­si­asm for life and improved self-esteem.

  • I use a biopsychosocial approach to care, taking into consideration each person's biological, psychological, and social factors and their complex interactions to best understand the individual's health, illness, and treatment needs. I am dedicated to instilling hope in my clients while helping each client work towards being their personal best-emotionally, mentally, and physically through the use of individualized holistic, pharmacological, and psychotherapy treatment.