Woman relaxing and meditating with eyes closed.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness refers to the practice of being aware of your presence in each moment, as well as being aware of your needs and desires. Many people think mindfulness refers to meditation; while meditation can certainly aid in mindfulness, many people’s ‘mindful’ practices are simply hobbies they enjoy in their free time or quiet moments spent sitting outdoors.
When your brain feels overwhelmed, it’s a good sign it’s time to sit back and rest for a while. No one can be productive, happy, or even remotely capable of accomplishing anything
when their brain is on overdrive. Mindfulness based stress reduction involves taking the time to allow your mind to unwind. In a society where being busy is glamourized it can be hard to find the time but even a few minutes a day will result in major gains. Let’s get started and learn how mindfulness based stress reduction works.

Reset Your Brain for Stress Relief

Sometimes you need a quick “win”. Before we look into more in depth mindfulness techniques let’s look into three quick methods for de stressing.
Work Out
Do what you love to do. It doesn’t have to be a gym membership and heavy weight-
lifting. You can focus on working out by jogging, taking walks, doing yoga, dancing,
playing ball with the kids. Do something you enjoy, and focus on pushing yourself. Pushing yourself in a healthy manner while working out helps you focus on your body and your mind rather than everything else. it helps reset your brain for happiness. One of my favorite mindfulness based stress reduction workout techniques is to take a walk without any electronics and simply focus on how my body feels.
Accomplish Something
If youíre overwhelmed and your brain is totally fried, why not focus on something
positive? Try something new or something you’ve been wanting to accomplish, and
work for it. When you have something positive to focus on, your mind is able to
replenish. Once youíve accomplished this task, you feel empowered. When you’re
empowered, you’re less stressed.
Create A Good Habit
Bad habits are hard to break, but you can focus easily on creating a new, happy habit that changes your brain. For example, you can focus on waking up earlier in the morning and starting your day before the rest of the world. Set your alarm a little earlier every day until itís habit. Use that extra time to meditate, to breathe deeply, to stretch, or to enjoy the quiet before the storm. This is the kind of healthy habit that changes the way your brain is wired so youíre calmer and more relaxed. Itís not a big change or a major habit to introduce, but itís an effective one that makes a big difference.

Benefits of Mindfulness

Here are some of the top uses of mindfulness that will improve your productivity in life.

The Power of a Brain Dump

Like a computer, our brain can only hold so much information at one time. Usually, that involves thousands of subconscious decisions every second, our brain constantly feeding our body information it needs to keep the blood pumping and the body moving. But that can also include thousands more conscious thoughts as well, decisions and choices we make every day that race across our mind like the Indianapolis 500. The first step towards mindfulness based stress release is to help your mind let go.
What is a Brain Dump?
If you’re like most people with an active mind, those thoughts can be overwhelming at times. It’s hard to move past those thoughts and find a sense of peace that comes from a still mind, but one of the best ways to clear your head is by utilizing a brain dump.
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A brain dump is exactly as it sounds: you take the thoughts that are in your head and dump them onto another storage device, like a journal or a piece of paper. The brain can only process a fraction of what’s inside your brain at any one time, so removing them from active memory to a place where you can see and recall them at any time helps the body feel relaxed and increases your productivity. No longer are you worried about what you’re going to make for dinner, now the only thing that matters is the task at hand.
Reasons to Consider it
The benefits of a brain dump can be enormous. For instance, you’ll regain a clarity and peace of mind that may have eluded you. You’ll feel more in control of your life, you’ll regain some of those still thoughts that were missing from your life, and you might even attain a deeper level of sleep and relaxation. Moreover, your productivity will skyrocket now that you have all the extra space and freedom to think about what you need to think about.
If you’ve never done a brain dump before, it’s remarkably easy, although it may take some time to get the hang of it. Grab a journal or notebook, and begin to write the words that come to your mind freely and quickly. Don’t worry about grammar or word choice or even spelling, just put whatever comes to your mind on the paper as fast as you can. Depending on how full your mind is, you may end up with anywhere from one paragraph to ten pages, but no matter what, get those thoughts out of you!
In creative writing, this process is called freewriting. Authors use it all the time when they encounter a mental block, because it removes the hesitancy and subconscious biases that may be blocking perfectly good words from coming out on the page. In life, it’s no different. There may be feelings and thoughts we have that keep us from being the person we know we need to be. In this case, utilizing an effective brain dump is not only helpful to get our work on track, but vital to keeping our life in balance.

Finding a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Finding a healthy work-life balance is harder than ever. With technology and telecommuting increasing employee expectations, it can seem impossible to find a balance between work and the ‘you time’ that you need. One way to help yourself find a work-life balance that works for you is to engage in mindfulness practices.
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How Can Mindfulness Help Create a Work-Life Balance?
Practicing mindfulness can help you keep a healthy work-life balance in many ways. Mindfulness helps you be better aware of stress, and managing stress is crucial to balancing your work and personal life. If you realize that you’re feeling stressed and unproductive, you’ll know that it’s time to take a short walk or give yourself a mental break of another kind.
Mindful people also tend to be more organized and focused, and thus more productive. This is largely because mindfulness allows you to establish a schedule that works best for you. Many people use mindfulness to remain ‘in the moment’ and completely focused during work hours, then turn that part of their brain off during breaks or after work to give their minds a rest. Mental exhaustion, after all, is a common reason for decreases in productivity. Being mindful also helps you prioritize between what tasks are urgent and what you can take your time on.
Mindfulness Tips:
To help you establish the best possible work-life balance, here are some mindfulness practices you might choose to engage in:
  1. Unplug – If you’re like many working men and women, having your phone on means you’re expected to be constantly accessible. One strategy to keep yourself mindful of your stress and help you relax is to take some ‘unplugged’ time each day where you turn off your phone and ignore your computer. Constant phone notifications and emails can feel overwhelming, and by unplugging for a bit, you can enjoy a relaxing activity to help yourself recharge in a way that you can’t with your devices in front of you.
  2. Exercise – Exercise should be up there with eating regular meals and drinking enough water on your list of personal needs. Exercise is one of the best stress-relievers and is proven to make people more productive overall, not least because it helps you remain mindful and focused on the moment.
  3. Make a Personalized Schedule – One final tip to maintain a good work-life balance is to create a schedule that best suits your needs. Be mindful of your stress levels on a day-to-day basis and find activities that help you reduce stress, then incorporate these into your schedule along with hours spent working.

Practicing Mindfulness as a Nighttime Routine

Evenings are an ideal time for practicing mindfulness based stress releif. With the day behind you and the promise of a good night’s sleep ahead, you can unwind, reflect, and take the time to center yourself before going to bed. Here’s how you can incorporate mindfulness into your nighttime routine.
Stop Using Electronics Before Bed
Research has shown that the blue light from computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices can make it harder to fall asleep at night. Electronics are also highly distracting – it’s hard to live in the moment when you’ve got a dozen tabs open in your browser. Turn off your gadgets at least one hour before you go to bed.
Focus on the Sensory Details of Your Routine
As you get ready for bed, take some deep breaths and focus your attention on the world around you. Take a warm bath and notice the way the water feels against your skin, or light a candle and focus on its scent.
Unwind with a Short Meditation Session
Meditation can help you let go of the day’s stress and prepare for a restful night’s sleep. Take ten minutes or so to clear your mind and focus on your breathing. Don’t meditate in bed, though, or you might accidentally fall asleep!
Relax Your Body
If you tend to carry tension in your body, make a point of relaxing before bed. Take deep, soothing breaths and consciously relax each muscle in your body, starting with your toes and moving up to your head. You can also try using a foam roller to massage any tightness out of your muscles.
Reflect on the Day in Your Journal
If you keep a mindfulness journal, evenings are a perfect time to write in it, since the events of the day are still fresh in your mind. Jot down some observations about what you experienced and accomplished, and make a note of your thoughts and feelings. If you’re working on improving your productivity, make a note of what you want to accomplish the next day.
Take a Moment to Prepare for the Next Day
Before you turn off the lights, take the time to lay out the next day’s clothes and program your coffee maker. Setting things up for your future self will help you feel less stressed about the upcoming day, and you’ll have a more productive morning if you prepare ahead of time.
Incorporating mindfulness into your evening routine won’t just help you fall asleep more easily. It will also help you maintain a brighter outlook and get more done around the clock. Incorporate these tips into your nighttime routine, and you’ll reap the benefits all day long.
Changing the way your brain feels with mindfulness based stress reduction is not always easy, but it is always possible. Sometimes you just need a break. If you can listen to your body and hear what itís trying to tell you based on how you’re feeling, how you’re reacting to situations, and how you’re functioning, you can easily tell when you need to reset and refocus.
Listen to your body, and you can change your life.

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