We live in an age of overwhelm and deal with it by spending most of our lives on autopilot. According to both research and common sense, this isn’t making us very happy. In fact, it makes us rather unhappy, stressed-out-zombie versions of who we could potentially be. So, how can we break the negative cycle? Is it possible to bring more consciousness, and more happiness, into our daily lives?
Unlike our animal relatives, we spend the majority of our time thinking about what isn’t happening right in front of us. Our minds are constantly pre-occupied with things that have happened in the past, may never happen or are yet to come our way. According to research, we spend almost half (46.9%) of our waking hours this way. Putting ourselves anywhere but the present has a negative impact on our wellbeing - as the brain busily wanders between these states, we're mindlessly missing out on the present and it’s making us miserable.
A great strategy to switch off autopilot mode is to invite more awareness into your life by being mindful.
Mindfulness is about consciously choosing to connect to the present moment and live in the now.
It’s not about adding anything else into your already busy day, rather, changing your relationship to what you decided to do during your waking hours. When you fully immerse yourself in your moment to moment experiences, whatever they may be, it calms the mind, brings a greater sense of clarity and positively impacts your happiness. Simply waking up to the moment you're in, and sticking with it, can be a real game-changer for your wellbeing.
Here are 5 simple ways to be more mindful:
1. Use your senses: Tune in to your senses to connect to the present experience as fully as possible. Where are you? What can you hear? Taste? Smell? See? Touch? Whether you're walking the dog in the park or having a coffee, awaken your senses and notice how you'll be immediately experiencing the beauty of the present moment.
2. Waiting game: Practice mindfulness while you wait. For the train to hit the platform, for the friend who's always a casual 15 minutes late (you know who you are), for the queue to shrink, for your name to be called, for your date to return from the bar, in those moments when you're forced to be patient or sit tight, ditch the scrolling and enjoy tuning in or noticing what's going on around you, instead.
3. Create MIMO's: It's really easy to intentionally introduce more mindful moments (or "MIMO's" as I like to call them) into your day. One simple way to do this is setting random timers on your phone. Whatever you're doing when the alarm goes off, let the buzzer break your autopilot mode and bring you back into the present. Continue your task with a mindful awareness, keeping your focus on the activity and immersing yourself in it fully. Set an alarm on your phone to bring you back into the present moment
4. What's your cue? Pick something in your daily environment or routine to act as a mindfulness cue. It could be an activity, a landmark, a piece of jewellery, a post-it note or a specific time of day that prompts you to live more mindfully every time you see or do it.
5. Try meditating: Download an app and give a guided mindfulness meditation a go. Meditation is simply a way to train your brain to become more mindful. Practicing for a couple of minutes first thing in the morning is ideal. You don't need to sit cross legged or meditate for an hour at a time - a chair will do just fine and the minutes will all add up as your practice develops.
Annika Rose is a Wellbeing Scientist, Meditation Teacher and Coach. Annika worked as a mental health professional in both the UK and Australia before she founded The Wellbeing Collective to positively impact the wellbeing of as many people in as many places as possible. She is passionate about mind health and wants to redefine what it means to live well. Her work focuses on increasing wellbeing and happiness in clients by bringing the latest science to life and using evidence-based digital offerings to spark positive transformation. Connect with Annika via her Facebook page, The Wellbeing Collective, or visit www.thewellbeingcollective.com.