Everyday mindfulness: Five small ways I started becoming mindful

Mindfulness is one of those things I’ve always wanted to try but never quite got around to actually doing. Like Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide. Or saving money. Or giving up chocolate. But the benefits associated with mindfulness seemed so impressive (hello improved concentration, relaxation, and mental and physical health!), that I decided this was one thing that might actually be worth trying. So armed with just the general idea behind mindfulness – an attention to and awareness of the present moment – I found some simple, everyday mindfulness exercises that worked for me and which may inspire anyone else who’s not quite sure where or how to start.

1. Pay attention to routine activities {concentration}

There are so many daily activities I do on autopilot. Tidying, doing the dishes, getting ready in the morning, walking to and from the train station – the list goes on! Because these activities are part of my daily routine (okay, well the dishes one may not quite be a daily occurrence…), I take them for granted and often do them without thinking. I’ve since tried to start focusing only on the task itself in order to improve my concentration and awareness. I’ve found some that subtly changing the way I approach the activity has helped – for example, I now try and brush my teeth with my left (non-dominant) hand which forces me to be mindful for fear of dribbling toothpaste everywhere!

2. Savour the experience {immersion}

There’s so many times when I try to recall an activity – like an outing, sight, or meal – and I realise that I barely remember doing it. While sometimes this is because of my stunningly bad memory, a lot of the time it’s because I’m not fully immersed in what I’m doing. Instead of enjoying a view, I’m taking a picture of it; instead of enjoying a night out, I’m thinking about what I have to do tomorrow. I’ve tried to change that recently and immerse myself in what I’m doing, and I’ve found that this has not only helped keep me grounded in the moment, but has also heightened my enjoyment and memory of these activities.

3. Embrace waiting {patience}

One of my pet peeves is waiting in lines, which makes it really hard to do a lot of things in Melbourne! I find waiting really difficult; I can get quite impatient and often resort to passing the time on my phone. So I’ve tried to start thinking of waiting as an opportunity rather than an annoyance. From waiting in lines to commuting on the train to getting stuck in traffic, these are all opportunities for mindfulness. Instead of instantly resorting to my phone, I now try and use these moments to observe my surroundings, let my mind wander, and simply think.

4. Notice the small things {observation}

There are so many things happening around us that we don’t notice. A lot of the time this is because of reasons like travelling in a hurry to get somewhere, chatting with someone, or thinking about what you need to do that day. But there are also plenty of times when we don’t have a reason, and just ignore our surroundings anyway. I now try and pay more attention to the small things that I may not have noticed previously. As a result, I’ve stumbled upon awesome graffiti, smelt beautiful flowers, fallen in love with the sky, and noticed those ‘small wins’ like a succession of green lights!

5. Revel in good moments {appreciation}

Lastly, I’ve tried to bring these subtle mindset shifts together and appreciate life’s good moments. Sometimes at night I find it hard to switch off; even though I might be physically exhausted, I’m not necessarily mentally exhausted and I find it hard to stop thinking. So I’ve tried to replace these active thoughts with reflective thoughts. Before I go to bed think, I try to think about one good thing that made me smile that day, even it seems insignificant. From a joke, to a nice view, to making it home before the rain, whatever it is I find that thinking about something that made me smile is a great way to say farewell to the day.

While this list of ways to start being mindful is by no means definitive and may not work for everyone, they are small, everyday ways to be mindful that I enjoy.

Hopefully these inspire you too!

E x