In this article
What is mindfulness?
Simply put, mindfulness is the act of living in the moment. “It’s the ability to be completely immersed and focused on what you’re doing in the present moment without being overly reactive or overwhelmed by your surroundings,” Sanderson explains.
Sound doable? It’s actually more difficult than you might think.
According to Sanderson, our minds can have the tendency to jump from thought to thought constantly throughout the day. “It is very difficult for a lot of people to achieve mindfulness, especially if they have high-stress jobs or a lot going on in their lives,” Sanderson says. “Training the mind to be able to focus on one thing at a time can take time.”
Its popularity tells us that the benefits of mindfulness are worth the effort, but what’s it all for? Sanderson believes that through mindfulness “you can activate the calming response in your body so that you're able to make better decisions and live a healthier life.”
The benefits of mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness1 can lead to:
- reduced stress
- improved focus and attention
- increased creativity
- a greater sense of calm
- improved immunity
- reduced anxiety and depression
- stronger relationships
- better learning and memory
So, amongst the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life, how can you start living in the now? Sanderson recommends these three simple techniques:
Tap into your five senses
Sanderson says this is a particularly easy exercise to practice at any point of the day. “Stop what you are doing and ask yourself; what can I see, what can I hear, what can I feel, taste and smell?”.
By tapping into your five senses, you can use them as a tool to shift your attention away from your thoughts and instead focus on what's happening right here, right now.
“When you tap into your five senses you are sent right back into the present moment and can move forward from there,” she adds.
Try taking a pause during your shower, without being too (water) wasteful, and make it mindful. Becoming a 'mindful shower master' isn't easy, as often it's a place of deep thought but there are benefits to being somewhere alone and away from distractions, and choosing to meditate.
Start by taking a few deep belly breaths before you start your shower. You might want to put a few drops of lavender oil in the shower, to activate with the steam. Notice the temperature of the water, and how it feels on the skin – take a moment to feel grateful for this. Notice where your thoughts go, let them leave you with the water – without pushing them away.
Come back to the senses, the sounds, smells, and feelings. You've just had a mindful shower.
Mindful eating is about being fully focused on your food as you buy, prepare, and eat it. Sanderson explains that to achieve mindful eating you need to stop multitasking and cut out all distractions.
“Sit down and fully tune into what you are doing. Look at your food; notice the colours and the smell; chew each mouthful, paying attention to the taste and texture as you’re enjoying your meal”.
With mindful eating you can slow down, savour the experience of eating, and bring your focus to the present moment.
If you need a little help getting started on your journey to a more mindful way of life, there are no shortage of apps you can download for free.
Our top picks are:
This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.