Gig economy, side hustle, entrepreneurial mindset. Mindfulness, intention, slow living. Spend an hour on the internet, and you’re sure to stumble across some combination of these words.
Despite how at-odds these phrases may feel, it’s hard not to see the correlation between the go-go-go #hustle of our daily lives and the seemingly opposing desire to slow it all down and, you know, breathe. With the standard 9-to-5 workday quickly becoming a thing of the past, we’ve begun to wear “busy” on our sleeves like a badge of honor, because for many, the alternative is somewhat scary. Might as well reclaim the word, right?
But “busy” isn’t just perception. Americans work more hours per week than most other countries, averaging about 50 hours (though, factoring in side jobs and freelance, most of us are working far beyond that). For most young professionals, “work/life balance” sounds like a pipe dream. Something our parents enjoyed and we can only dream about. In its place are meditation apps and studios, breathing exercises and quiet rooms. Things we fit in to feel better — when we can. But when your schedule is packed and you regularly find yourself eating dinner over the kitchen sink at the end of the day, even mindfulness can begin to feel like a chore. Yet another obligation to squeeze in between waking, work and rest. Why bother?
Turns out, for those of us living lives that can, at times, feel frenzied, mindfulness — or purposefully focusing your attention on the present moment — is a necessity and may even play a key role in health, happiness and wellbeing. Sometimes combined with meditation (called mindfulness meditation), mindfulness has been found to have a number of benefits, like these below.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Supporting mental wellbeing
More and more frequently, mindfulness is being combined with other therapy practices to support the mental wellbeing of patients suffering from trauma, depression and more.
Assisting Physical Health
Mindfulness, especially when combined with meditation, has been found to ease stress and anxiety, which in turn can assist sleep function, reduce pain, and even lower blood pressure.
Improving Overall Wellness
If you’re stressed all the time and exhausted, mindfulness and meditation can help you re-calibrate, and provide important coping mechanisms for times when you’re experiencing stress.
Who could say no to better overall mental and physical wellbeing? But it’s hard to say “yes” when your schedule is jam-packed.
So, how can a Busy-with-a-capital-B person cultivate mindfulness while living a jam-packed life? The good news is, there’s more than one way to do it. The not-so-bad news is that it takes practice.
Your mindfulness routine doesn’t have to look like traditional meditation, in fact, you can even be mindful while working on a task. The important thing is to maintain focus. So, mindfulness may be hard to achieve during a board meeting, but not out of the question when you’re vacuuming, folding laundry, running or doing the dishes.
Cultivate Mindfulness in a Busy Day
Focus on a Singular Task
Many people use their daily run or walk to work as a time to think about upcoming deadline or projects. Not exactly the calming experience you may be craving! Instead, focus solely on the task at hand. Listen to your breathing, allow thoughts, sensations and emotions to pass.
Use an App
If you want to go all-in, download a meditation app, like 10% Happier or Calm, and commit to a few minutes everyday. A book, like 10% Happier by Dan Harris, can also help you develop strategies and understand the importance of mindfulness more.
Create a Routine
If you find yourself rushing around each morning in an effort to get out the door on time, creating a mindful morning routine may support you in feeling more balanced at the start of each day. First, it’s important to get adequate sleep and wake with enough time to accomplish what you need to do. Then, focus on each task singularly — brushing your teeth, getting dressed, sipping your morning coffee. Think only of the task and what’s happening in the here-and-now, and enjoy the sensations that come with it.
The important thing to remember is that mindfulness can look anyway you want it to, as long as it allows you to slow down, focus and accept the present moment. Remember, the more you practice mindfulness, the easier it will become – and the more you’ll benefit!
Do you have tips for cultivating mindfulness in a busy schedule? Share your tips with us by tagging us with @AvocadoMattress or #AvocadoGreenMagazine