Another great blog post written by Melli O’Brien
AKA Mrs. Mindfulness
Busy & Stressed?
3 Tips to Make Your Day More Mindful
I just came back from teaching my four-day retreat ‘the art of mindful living’ to forty wonderful people.
Throughout the course of those four days it became apparent that a common challenge in most of their lives was stress. They are not alone.
According to WebMD, currently 75% to 90% of doctor visits are due to complaints and illnesses related to stress (1) and Psychology Today refers to stress not just as an epidemic, but as a pandemic now (2). Stress is rampant and on the rise, especially in the west.
Trying to do too much can certainly be one factor involved in the emotional state of stress but busyness does not necessarily mean stress.
In my life right now I am the busiest I have been in years. There are many things that need doing during the day. My man and I are juggling preparing our house for sale, running two businesses and getting ready to move.
When my schedule is very full like this I employ some tricks and ‘cheats’ to maintain mindfulness during my workday. I am going to share the three here that I find the most potent and easy to introduce to your daily routine.
1. Mindfulness Bells
In France there is a famous ‘mindfulness monastery’ called Plum Village. At random intervals during each day the sound of a ‘mindfulness bell’ echoes through the village. Upon hearing the sound every person stops whatever they are doing and takes a moment to simply be.
These pauses in the day are an opportunity for people connect deeply with themselves and to the present moment.
You may not be at a monastery but you can introduce mindfulness bells into your day. I use an awesome iPhone app called ZAZEN.
The free version that I use has two settings. One is a meditation timer but the other is a mindfulness bell which you can set to go off at intervals during the day – either 15, 30 or 60 minutes.
When you hear the sound of the bell take a brief pause from whatever you’re doing and take a deep slow conscious breath.
If you don’t have an iPhone you can get creative and set up another kind of mindfulness bell into your day.
Many of us have a habit of rushing through our days as if there were a finish line we’re trying to get to. Instead of rushing from task to task practice mindful transitions.
This simply means that when you have completed a task – like say making breakfast – pause for a moment before moving to the next thing (which in this case might be walking to the dining table) and take one of those deep slow conscious breaths mentioned above.
This brings you back into the moment and therefore is a natural antidote to stress (it’s almost impossible to be fully present in the moment and stressed at the same time!).
One of the most potent places to practice a mindful transition is in the car. Once you sit in the drivers seat stop, breathe and connect – then move.
3.One Thing At A Time
Studies show multitasking is a less efficient way to do things (3). To be more accurate, what these studies show is that multitasking is a myth.
What most people think of as multitasking is actually a very quick shifting of attention from back and forth from task to task – and this rapid shifting of attention leaves you vulnerable to stress.
Being that multitasking is less efficient and also potentially harmful there is no reason to do it. Kick the habit!
Keep your focus on one thing at a time. Be fully present in the moment for each task as you do it (after all this is your life!). Not only will you be more efficient and make less mistakes but you will also be happier and notice a natural sense of peace arising as you go about your day.
Try these 3 tips out and let me know how they go for you in the comments section below. Do you have your own mindfulness tips to counter stress? Share them too!