Mindfulness is a state of enlightenment – the capacity to be aware of where we are and what we are doing.
But mindfulness is not a negative state of detachment.
Instead, it is an awareness of one’s internal thoughts and emotions and external surroundings.
The concept of mindfulness began 2500 years ago with the teachings of Buddha Sakyamuni.
People are not born with mindfulness, nor can it be bought.
Mindfulness is a state of being applied to various tools and psychological therapies to help people avoid destructive habits and responses.
These therapies include:
- mindfulness-based stress reduction
- mindfulness meditation
- mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy
They assist individuals in observing their thoughts, reactions, and emotions without judging or reacting.
- What Are Mindful Habits?
- What Are The Benefits of Developing Mindfulness Habits
- 1. Practice Daily Meditation
- 2. Cultivate Personal Space
- 3. Express Gratitude
- 4. Aim for Better Sleep
- 5. Practice Compassion and Contribution
- 6. Move Your Body
- 7. Cultivate Healthy Relationships
- 8. Smile Often
- 9. Practice Conscious Breathing
- 10. Reduce Social Media Exposure
- 11. Create Reasonable Goals
- 12. Create Rituals
- 13. Write in a Journal
- 14. Savor Your Meals
- 15. Foster Creativity
What Are Mindful Habits?
In today’s demanding world, getting lost in the minutia is easy. Sometimes we don’t realize that we are overthinking a situation or critical of everything around us.
When stressed or fearful, we unknowingly cross the line between opinion and odious judgment of ourselves and others.
And once over that line, we find it almost impossible to step back.
One school of thought subdivides mindfulness into five components:
- Conscious attention
- Reduction of self-dialogue
- Failure to respond
- Philosophical, ethical values
To be mindful is to observe thoughts and emotions without judgment – allowing a person to determine the reason for a reaction.
Once we know why we say and do what we do, it is easy to develop tools to help minimize the negative and accentuate the positive in our lives.
While not easy, one achieves the state of mindfulness through mindfulness habits and rituals.
Mindfulness is a conscious state that involves awareness, impartiality, and non-judgmental reflection.
What Are The Benefits of Developing Mindfulness Habits
Mindfulness has numerous benefits, enhancing your ability to deal with everyday struggles.
In the 1970s, the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program recognized the debilitating nature of stress.
This program provides individuals with tools to cope with mental or physical illness through various instructor-led exercises.
With the MBSR program as a foundation, researchers continue to study the physiological and psychological benefits of developing mindful habits.
And mindfulness has become a popular self-help tool for personal well-being.
- Decreases stress. — Mindful meditation is considered a key element in fighting stress. It can improve sleep, energy, concentration, depression, and anxiety while lowering blood pressure.
- Improve the decision-making process. — evidence shows that mindfulness training can enhance decision-making by focusing attention. Mindfulness affects other cognitive factors in decision-making, such as compassion and cognitive control.
- Enhance romantic relationships. — Relationships are enhanced when one is conscious of a partner’s needs and fosters better listening and communication techniques. Studies have shown that mindfulness improves well-being, attention, and awareness.
- Enhances ability to deal with chronic illness. — While mindfulness will not cure a disease, it can help manage symptoms. The eCALM study found that mindfulness reduced symptoms of stress and relieved fatigue in cancer patients while improving pain management.
- Controls emotions. — Many studies show that those with mindfulness meditation experience were better able to disengage emotionally and focus on the task.
15 Mindful Habits to Improve Your Well-Being
Mindfulness means being present and is the hottest wellness trend in the world. With a little effort, individuals can incorporate mindful habits into their daily rituals to improve health and overall well-being.
1. Practice Daily Meditation
Mindfulness and meditation are often used interchangeably. Meditation is a staple of mindfulness. And while meditation is a popular tool that helps achieve mindfulness, the two are not the same.
But most Americans find it hard to relax or calm their thoughts. This inability to center increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. It also weakens the immune system.
Developing a meditation practice for a few minutes a day can profoundly impact daily consciousness.
And apps like Headspace and Calm can help focus thoughts by introducing new and innovative methods for mindful meditation.
2. Cultivate Personal Space
Disorganization has a cumulative effect on our brains. The constant visual reminders of a messy office, desk, or home drain our cognitive resources, reducing our ability to focus, according to a study from Princeton University.
The visual distraction of clutter increases cognitive overload and can decrease our working memory. Those wallowing in chaos were often overwhelmed by “stuff” and more likely to procrastinate.
In addition to decluttering a space, we need our area to be in tune with our environment — its humidity, ventilation, sunlight, and viewpoints. But more importantly, a cultivated space works intuitively and harmoniously with our subconscious.
3. Express Gratitude
Mindful people who practice gratitude and consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed.
Grateful people who regularly express their gratitude are more optimistic, utilizing more positive and less harmful words. Studies suggest that listing the things we are thankful for shifts attention away from toxic emotions, such as resentment and envy.
Expression of gratitude also creates a neurogenic response similar to a runner’s high.
4. Aim for Better Sleep
Mindfulness includes listening to your body, taking breaks, and not pushing yourself over the edge. Society requires that we be constantly plugged in and on the go. But that is not healthy – for our bodies or our minds.
Regular and sufficient sleep is mandatory for the proper functioning of the human body. Without rest, we make bad decisions and gain weight.
Our hormones become imbalanced. With significant sleep deprivation, we hallucinate, and eventually, the body’s organs shut down, and so do we.
5. Practice Compassion and Contribution
The state of compassion is made real through contribution. The act of giving takes many different forms – some volunteer their time while others give treasure.
Humans are born kind. Therefore, small random acts of kindness come naturally. Others, like socially approved etiquette, are taught.
And there is growing evidence that even watching or thinking about doing good provides powerful physiological and neurological benefits. Known as the “Mother Teresa Effect,” researchers found that watching a short film on Mother Teresa’s efforts in India provided a positive physiological response.
That study revealed that simply thinking about contributing to the lives of others enhances our immune system.
And whether it’s giving up your seat or picking up a dropped box, the opportunities to contribute to others’ lives are endless.
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6. Move Your Body
Movement is essential to the human body, whether breathing, daily exercise, or a gentle stroll around the block. Mindful movement helps us nourish our bodies by strengthening and stretching. But we can also use motion to improve our emotional wellness.
Another way to add mindfulness to movement is to dedicate oneself to the workout, acknowledge the reasons for the exercise, and stay present from start to finish.
7. Cultivate Healthy Relationships
Psychological evidence suggests that practicing mindfulness can foster greater relationship satisfaction by increasing the ability to deal with stress and conflict. A degree of mindfulness is required to strengthen your relationships in sustainable and realistic ways.
Many of our behaviors are conditioned responses. Practicing mindfulness helps to shift unconscious behaviors that impact your relationships.
But turning to a more positive response takes more than conscious effort. Recent research shows that mindfulness training changes neural circuits, literally rewiring the brain to adopt new ways of responding.
8. Smile Often
Smiling is one of the easiest and most fun ways to work 13 muscles simultaneously. Studies show that smiling releases neuropeptides that help fight stress. A smile also signals the brain to release feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins.
The serotonins act as antidepressants, while endorphins act as mild pain relievers.
Dopamine creates a dopaminergic response creating a natural ‘high’ similar to one that athletes experience after extensive exercise.
Showing those dimples also helps others view you as more attractive, reliable, relaxed, and sincere.
9. Practice Conscious Breathing
Breathing helps regulate the nervous system, a quick and easy method to reduce stress and anxiety and control impulsive reactions. A key factor in meditation, breathing exercises can also be a brief two-minute thing.
An increasing number of apps help with breathing and mindful meditation. Most sports watches now have a deep breathing exercise or game.
The most simple exercise is a Square Breath — Inhale for four counts. Hold for four counts. Exhale for four counts. Hold for four counts.
Even once, the action can affect blood pressure and pulse rate.
10. Reduce Social Media Exposure
The advent of social media was an experiment intended to increase our connections and global access. However, it has been warped into an experience that celebrates instant gratification and external validation and approval. It is also a mammoth waste of time.
Happy people maintain a healthy relationship with social media by disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with themselves. This process of reuniting with the present is known as ‘checking-in.’
11. Create Reasonable Goals
List makers understand that achievement can be as simple as crossing something off a list. It can also be as significant as receiving public recognition for a deed.
But setting unrealistic goals that are out of reach creates a harmful environment.
Choose reasonable goals that, while challenging, are attainable. Writing these goals down manifests them both consciously and subconsciously – allowing us to take simple steps to realize each objective.
This sense of achievement increases our self-esteem and confidence and highlights our abilities here and now. Some research supports a physiological response to achievement, similar to a dopaminergic response.
In other words, good deeds make you feel good.
12. Create Rituals
Rituals are important. Whether making coffee, eating, practicing an instrument, or getting dressed, rituals structure our lives and allow us control.
Instead of automated responses to everyday actions, take the time to notice and appreciate each step of the ritual process. Savor the little moments: smells, textures, sounds, and more.
13. Write in a Journal
Journaling is a mindfulness habit with many benefits. Daily journaling helps reinforce mindfulness by providing a safe place to relive the day’s happiest achievements or most challenging moments. The process focuses on the retailing of the moment.
As part of daily journaling, record goals or a gratitude list, once written down, it is more likely to be the center of focus, consciously or subconsciously, throughout the day.
14. Savor Your Meals
Eating can be another mindful habit when practiced with deliberation—savoring each meal with all your senses.
Experience the aroma and pause between bites. Avoid distractions like eating while on the phone, walking around, or watching a movie.
Researchers at Harvard Health have shown mindful eating helps people develop better eating habits and healthier relationships with food.
15. Foster Creativity
Creative action is supported by mindfulness. A study from Frontiers in Cognition found meditation increases creativity by activating divergent thinking – opening the brain to new ideas. The practice of mindfulness is also known to improve focus and attention –making it easier to combine novel ideas and non-sequitur concepts.
The physical expression of creativity, such as music, writing, or the visual arts, has been shown to help decrease stress and anxiety.
With a little conscious effort, mindful habits become a natural part of your everyday life. Taking a moment each day to tune in with your thoughts and actions can have powerful effects.