How to Cultivate Mindful Moments to Improve Your Well-Being
As I write this, Singapore is returning to Phase 2 pandemic measures due to the recent rise in Covid-19 cases within the community. Over the week, gyms closed their doors, people returned to a work-from-home arrangement, while social gatherings were whittled down to a maximum of just five people. Along with these came tons of text messages, phone calls, Zoom meetings and a gradual decline in positivity.
It’s natural to feel apprehensive and anxious in the face of an uncertain future. But remembering that these changes lie beyond our control is important. Amid this unpredictable situation, we need to strive to find mental clarity in order to live each day to the fullest. One of the ways that can keep us from feeling frazzled is to try and incorporate mindful moments throughout the day.
When people think of mindfulness, they tend to think of it as a lifestyle and also immediately relate it to things like meditation, yoga and stillness. The concept of mindfulness had always been rather vague and unquantifiable. But mindfulness doesn’t have to be a lifestyle, or a way of living, so to speak. It can simply be a daily tool we can use to help us improve our emotional well-being.
The benefits of practising mindfulness have been proven with research. It reduces stress, increases positivity and the overall quality of life, and can help deal with burnout, depression and mood disorders.
When we are distracted and constantly multitasking, we don’t notice the small things around us.
For many years, the concept of living mindfully seemed unattainable and unrealistic with my own hectic lifestyle. But once I was able to break down mindfulness into bite-sized, manageable moments, I started to see and enjoy positive benefits.
Through years of working with clients, I have found that just by making time for a few mindful moments through the day, one can train the brain to be calm, focused, and attuned to the environment.
When we practise mindfulness, we pay attention to our breathing, thoughts, feelings, what we see, smell, taste by being acutely aware of our surroundings. When we are distracted and constantly multitasking, we don’t notice the small things around us.
In my Getting to Happy set of cards that are designed to help people find happiness, I highlighted three simple ways in which you can create and cultivate mindfulness every day. Before we delve into them, I would like you to dismiss the notion that we need to be serene and content beings to be able to use these methods.
Mindfulness can be taught, and with practice, can become a tool that is used to increase your physical and mental health. With all the added stress we feel now, I’d like to encourage you to try these three simple mindfulness techniques.
Cup of joy
Multitasking is a big part of our lives, but while trying to be as productive as one can, we are often left feeling overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of the day. Instead of rushing through your day, make time in the midst of your work or chores to have a couple of undisturbed short breaks. Learning to pause and identify opportunities to be fully present will help us reflect and reset our internal balance so we are less reactive, more resilient and happier.
Start your morning with a mindful moment. My recommendation is to have one with your morning cup of tea or coffee. Without distractions, prepare that drink with full intention. Be present whilst you prepare each step. Smell the aromas—what do you notice, what do you feel? Breathe deeply, acknowledging how you feel and the thoughts in your mind. Those minutes spent enjoying your drink will result in you being present and grateful. Relish your first drink of the day.
Before I started this practice, I gave no thought to my multiple coffees throughout the day. Now, with heightened awareness and total gratitude, I savour and appreciate the drink. It works like a reset button—purging my mind of negativity or frustrations and clearing the way for happiness to enter.
The most common form of practising mindfulness is meditation. We know the powerful effects meditation has on us. Improved cognition, enhanced empathy, stress reduction, increased attention, reduced pain sensation, which all will help regulate anxiety and mood disorders.
Go easy on yourself if you’re a beginner at meditation—some days will be a breeze and others more challenging. A simple way to cultivate meditation moments could be when you are commuting. Pop in your headphones, connect to meditation music on Spotify or a guided app and use those brief moments to help transition mentally from one situation to another.
Here’s one example of how meditation can be employed as a tool. When you have a challenging meeting at work that needs your full attention, take a few moments to meditate before the meeting begins, so that you can find the mental clarity and calmness to help you handle the situation better.
The best shower of your life
To end your day on a positive note, I find one of the best ways is to mindfully take a shower. I know you must be asking—what does that even mean?
It means simply being “present” and fully aware of the warm water and the aroma of the soap, enjoying how everything makes you feel. Give thanks to the universe for this precious, though mundane, activity. When I intentionally practise this myself, it makes me feel grounded, and I metaphorically wash away the events of the day, which I tell myself have already happened and thus cannot be changed.
I hope, with these three simple activities, that you are able to incorporate a few mindful moments in your day and see an improvement in your physical and mental well-being. Happiness doesn’t have to be solely derived from other people or situations that you cannot control—you can take things in your hand and make these precious moments happen yourself.
Related: How to Be Happy: 5 Ways to Find Hope in Times of Distress
Shireena Shroff Manchharam is a certified life and happiness coach with her own practice, Sheens Image Consulting. Her passion is in helping individuals reach their highest potential and she is always on a mission to bring happiness to people’s lives. Her husband and two kids—Lara and Arian—and her pet dog, Bowen, are her constant source of love and happiness.
This is the sixth in a series by Shireena Shroff Manchharam on mindfulness and gratitude.