Start your day the mindful way

Time just seems to fly by these days. Christmas only feels like last week, but we’re somehow already in March. How did that happen? When we were children, waiting for a birthday or Christmas seemed to last an age, but as adults, events seem to creep up on us quickly without us even realising. Why does time go so quickly and what can we do about it?

One reason why it may feel like time goes quicker as we get older is the amount of pressure we experience. From around the age of 16 to retirement, we regularly face multiple pressures with time limits such as exams and deadlines. As these pressures build up, time feels like it moves more quickly and we start to feel as if we don’t have enough of it to get everything done.

Conversely, as young children we rarely experience these pressures and the new things we encounter are viewed with curiosity and excitement. Growing up, we learn new things all the time. When we are constantly aware of our changing environment and take notice of the new things we encounter, we store more memories which results in it feeling like time doesn’t go as fast.

Taking notice of what’s happening in the here and now is what mindfulness is all about. We can use mindfulness to reduce the amount of pressure we experience, make the most of every moment and improve our wellbeing. It might even slow down time a little.

Theme 5: Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing and accepting, rather than judging, our thoughts, feelings and sensations that occur in the present moment. Through practising mindfulness, we can learn to view our thoughts and experiences as transient events that don’t need to be acted on or control us. Noticing everyday activities such as brushing our teeth or our feet on the ground as we walk can interrupt our automatic thoughts and give us a new perspective on life. Mindfulness can also teach us to slow down, that we don’t always have to react immediately to situations we encounter.

Why is mindfulness good for our wellbeing?

Mindfulness has been shown to be effective in:

Increasing our awareness of the here and now can help us understand ourselves better and increase our enjoyment of the world around us. Mindfulness is really as simple as focusing on what is going on around and within us in the present moment. The more mindfulness is practised, the longer the positive effects on our wellbeing.

Mindfulness has been shown to improve wellbeing by addressing cognitive and emotional reactivity and reducing repetitive negative thinking. That is, mindfulness can help us take a step back from stressful and emotional situations. By acknowledging our thoughts as transient events, we can learn to let go of negative thought patterns and behaviours. This can lead us to make choices and behave in ways that better meet our needs, interests and values, which is good for our wellbeing.

Mindfulness doesn’t have to involve sitting cross-legged and meditating – it can be done anywhere, anytime. You can practice mindfulness while doing everyday activities such as brushing your teeth, having a cup of coffee or eating lunch. You don’t need to set time aside to practice mindfulness, you can just bring awareness to what you already do. Starting the day mindfully can help us appreciate things we usually take for granted when it feels like time is running away from us.

This week’s activity helps us to start the day mindfully. Most of us have to travel somewhere everyday – to work, university, college, school or an appointment. Why not use this time travelling to practice mindfulness and become more aware of what is going on within and around you? If you’re not sure where to start, this week’s activity worksheet includes more details and some questions to think about to help make your commute more mindful.

Click the link below to download the worksheet. You can fill it in using the ‘fill and sign’ tool or alternatively print it off and fill it in by hand.

If you noticed anything new or your mindful commute had a positive impact on the rest of your day, please do get in touch and share your story.

I share wellbeing-related research, news and stories on twitter and Instagram in between weekly blog posts so do follow @15minwellbeing on both platforms to keep up to date.

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