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4 Simple Ways to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Daily Routine

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Most people have a daily routine that consists of waking up at a certain time, getting ready, traveling to work and making it home to get yourself prepared to do it all again the next day. It does not always feel like there’s time for anything else.

By the time you get home, you may feel like your energy is depleted and you may be unwilling to add any extra activities to your to-do list. Developing your self-awareness throughout your day can promote improved mood and overall quality of life. Mindfulness does not have to be an extreme change. Here are some ways that can help you work on including this skill in your daily routine:

1. Be intentional.

When you first wake up, set an intention you would like to commit to for the day. This does not have to be anything extravagant. Setting an intention can be as simple as focusing on a single positive word (peace, joy, patience, etc.) or an idea (going with the flow, living authentically, allowing yourself space for your thoughts and feelings).

2. Being mindful of your senses.

By paying more attention to how you experience the world around you, you are able to deepen your connection with yourself. You can practice this as you are going through your day-to-day tasks. Showering? Pay attention to the way the water feels on your skin. Smell the products you’re using. Listen to the sound of the water flowing. Look around you and acknowledge the details you don’t normally pay mind to. Notice if there is tension in your body, and deepen your breathing to allow yourself to relax.

3. Breathe!

It is a simple task, but can make a huge difference in allowing yourself to reset and decrease your stress levels. There are quite a few breathing exercises available, but one of my most highly recommended would be the four-seven-eight technique. To do this exercise, you will breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. By engaging in this exercise, you activate the relaxation response in your body. If you’re unable to add a few minutes into your busy life to do this, then consider trying this exercise out while getting ready in the morning or during your commute.

4. Gratitude.

Sometimes when you’re in a difficult space or feeling down, it can be tough to see the positives in your life. But one way to work on feeling good is to incorporate gratitude into your day. By allowing yourself to recognize what is working rather than what isn’t, you can actually make changes to your brain.

Expressing gratitude has been linked to increasing dopamine production, which improves your mood. Dopamine deficiency can be related to depression, and this is one way to give your brain a boost. What is great about gratitude exercises is you can do them at any time. Sipping your morning coffee? Think about three things you feel thankful for. Getting dressed and ready to go? Think about three things you appreciate about yourself or your loved ones.

If you would like to be more concrete in practicing gratitude, you can consider making a gratitude jar or box. Obtain a container that you would like to dedicate to your practice. Take five minutes out of your day to write these on small pieces of paper and place them inside. You’ll be surprised to find how quickly you can fill it up, and this can be helpful on your tough days to read through past grateful thoughts.

The practice of mindfulness has become more prevalent and integrated into psychotherapy modalities. Duke University found “mindfulness may bring about positive psychological effects … ranged from increased subjective wellbeing, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, to improved regulation of behavior.”

While making big changes can be challenging, it is completely possible to start small. These four mindfulness exercises will allow you to stay on schedule while incorporating mindfulness to begin making positive changes into your daily life. Challenge yourself to give mindfulness a try and find what works for you. Your quality of life is worth investing in.

Getty image by Antikwar

Originally published: November 20, 2019
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