When we take the time to be mindful and we take the time to check in with ourselves and cultivate awareness of our emotions, thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness is a skill that many know about, but few commit to practicing. It means confronting your inner self, which scares some people, but is a valuable tool when you're a stressed out college student. Mindfulness creates effects of better memory, focus, emotional stability and decreased levels of stress and anxiety. Pretty cool, right?
So how do you practice mindfulness?
1. Start a gratitude journal.
Since mindfulness is all about taking in the moment and not fretting about the future or past, it can be helpful and enlightening to start a gratitude journal for yourself. To begin, grab any journal and set a goal for how many things you'd like to write down each day. It doesn't have to be a long list. What's more important is that each item is specific and well thought out. Gratitude journals are also wonderful pick-me-ups for when you're feeling down, because they will remind you of all the elements of your life that are good.
2. Practice meditation.
Meditation has become increasingly popular in the last couple of years, but only those who commit to a daily practice reap the benefits. If you have trouble starting up, try an app like Headspace or Breathe. Many meditation apps have trackers that will hold you accountable to meditate everyday. It doesn't have to be for a long time, because truly, it doesn't matter how long you meditate for. So long as you stick with it, you should see the benefits.
A lot of the time it's easy to get caught up in trying to accomplish many things at once, especially with deadlines looming overhead, but what we fail to realize is how taxing this extreme-multitasking can be. Instead, try to prioritize what you need to get done, and focus on one task at a time. This way, you can give you full, uninterrupted effort to the task, so that your mind isn't overloaded and each assignment or task is given the attention that it needs. This post by Leo Babauta explains the benefits of unitasking really well.
4. Put down your phone.
Our phones keep us occupied and connected wherever we go, but sometimes it's important to turn them off. For example, how many great conversations have been either interrupted or not even started because you and another person were both playing on your phones? Imagine the things you could've learned in the past if you were really paying attention. I'm not saying to go completely phone-less, because I'm as obsessed with mine as the next person, but it's just something to think about. Mindfulness is all about being in the moment, and you can't do that if you're never present to witness it.
5. Appreciate nature.
Admit it, you ignore nature. In fact, most people ignore nature. But what's really cool is that even though we ignore it, nature continues to be it's beautiful self and doesn't go away. Which means that you can start paying attention any time you want. So instead of zoning out on your walk to class, take notice of the vibrant leaves on trees and blooming flowers as you pass them by. After getting out of your head, you will be so much more grateful of the world that we live in and the gorgeous workings of mother nature.
6. Take time to do what you love.
When you're sitting in a boring class or doing pages upon pages of homework, it's hard to revel in the moment. So it makes sense that one should always do something they love everyday, if only just because they love it. Taking time out of the day for your passions and hobbies is something that often gets lost to busy schedules and Netflix, but it is an active practice of mindfulness. If you love drawing, draw a little before bed. If you love basketball, go to the gym with some friends and start a game. Sometimes we neglect these activities because they're not productive, but they are an important method of self care and development.
In short, mindfulness is taking advantage of each and every singular moment and not letting anything come to pass. It is having gratitude and cultivating positivity through taking an interest in the world around you. Mindfulness. It can take some time to develop, but I promise you, it will change your life.
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