4 Ways to Practice Mindfulness in Your Daily Life
Mindfulness can be one of the most difficult, yet most rewarding things to practice and master. It’s a state of mind that keeps our focus on the present moment and can bring long-term rewards in the form of less stress, better physical health, and a greater awareness of our impact on many aspects of life.
This goes for not only thinking of how our actions may directly impact the people around us, but how our actions also directly and indirectly impact the planet at large, such as nature and the environment, or people living on the other side of the globe. There are simple ways to change our mindset, and keep our focus on the present moment, both for ourselves, and for the greater good of the world as a whole.
1. Focus on the environment
Being conscious of the health of the planet and educating ourselves about how we can make a positive difference can help us to stay present. Making a conscious decision to walk or bike to locations that are close to us instead of driving can help reduce pollution, as well as use fewer oil resources, which contribute to greenhouse gases and climate change. Collectively, our individual choices can make a difference, and remembering this can help us to practice mindfulness in our actions each day.
Doing simple things at home to save energy, such as remembering to turn off the lights and using proper insulation, helps us to avoid unnecessary energy use to heat and cool our homes. Taking easy actions such as unplugging electronics we’re not using, or choosing to wash clothes in cool water rather than warm saves energy – switching to cold water saves up to 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide in each household annually. Not only that, but cool water is easier on your clothes, reducing wear and tear, thus reducing the need to replace items.
Keeping clothing items longer reduces not only the waste associated with throwing away a worn-out garment, but also the energy, fuel, and water used for raw materials such as cotton. It also reduces the need for energy to transport materials to a production facility, the use of heavy equipment to make fabric, transporting that to a manufacturer, assembling the item, throwing away excess fabric, producing packaging, using energy to ship the item to you, and more. Every action has a far deeper impact than most people think about, so keeping our awareness on the actions we take can translate to a greater protection of the environment.
2. Focus on our purchases
Especially during the pandemic, we may be more aware of the items we need, where we spend our money, and how the goods make it into our hands. You might be more aware of your corner grocery store, a local farmers’ market, or the small businesses in your area. Some people have adjusted to the way they shop or patronize restaurants. Pandemic lockdowns mean some businesses that depend on foot traffic are seeing reduced hours, or a change in service, such as adding deliveries, or curbside pickup.
Being mindful not only about what we need, but what our community might need, can help us to make conscious choices that not only ensure our needs are met, but also assist the health of our communities overall. For example, you might choose a meal from a neighborhood bistro that you appreciate and want to support, which in turn supports the workers, suppliers and farmers who depend on that restaurant.
Buying food as locally sourced as possible not only helps support local growers, but also helps protect the environment by reducing the carbon emissions associated with transportation, as well as the need to package and preserve food that travels long distances. Choosing products and gift items that are produced by a fair trade certified organization helps support a wide range of concerns, including upholding child labor laws, promoting gender equity and worker’s rights, supporting economic development, and preventing climate change. Thinking about each purchase, its sourcing, and its greater impact can bring our mindset to the present moment.
3. Focus on positivity
This can be a tough one when it may feel like everything’s going wrong – many people are ill, facing lost or reduced employment, and cancelling or postponing special events like family gatherings or travel. But now is the time when we need to bring our minds back to what is good in our lives. Practicing gratitude, such as through keeping a gratitude journal, can help us to create a more positive mindset.
Writing down a few things you can be grateful for each day can help draw your attention back to what’s going right – and that means thinking about the now. You can be grateful for the people you have in your life, for the things you have at that very moment – and that’s what mindfulness is all about. Cataloging what you’re grateful for can help bring your mind to the present moment.
Practicing mindfulness when it comes to positivity also can help us to be aware of the things that are drawing our focus away from the present moment. Social media, for example, can be a wonderful tool in staying connected with our friends and family, but it also can create negativity. Seeing an edited version of someone else’s life can fill us with regret about our own lives (living in the past), or with anxiety about what we’re not doing (living in the future). Be mindful about the time you choose to spend online, how you choose to spend it, and create awareness around when it’s not assisting you in making your life better.
4, Focus on learning how to be mindful
If you’re having trouble working your way to mindfulness, you’re not alone. One of the better ways to spend time online or on your smartphone is by tapping into the resources provided by any number of great mindfulness apps that are available to you. Choose one that offers you daily meditations, ways to stay present, information on how to promote better sleep, and tools to help you adjust your breathing – a proven way to help improve your mental and physical health.
Try print or audiobooks that can offer you tools and insight into creating a more mindful life. Check out mindfulness authors such as Diana Winston, Jenny Odell, Mark Coleman, Thich Nhat Hahn, Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle, and countless others. Many local libraries are offering curbside pickup.
Setting the intention of creating a greater mindfulness in your daily life can ultimately change the way you see yourself and the world – and to help you create positive ripples that build a better world.
About the Author
Morgen Henderson hails from the beautiful mountains of Utah. When she’s not writing, she spends her time enjoying the planet, especially through travel and nature, and baking new concoctions in her kitchen. You can find more of her work at https://hendersonmorgend.