Mindfulness for A Crazy Life

What is Mindfulness? And How can I fit it into my busy life?

 

Do you ever realise you pretty much rushed through every moment of your day?

Or have you been at the end of a car journey, and didn’t really remember the details of driving?

Or do you feel your life is just rushing by?

 

We operate on Auto-pilot

This is because we are often on… auto-pilot! Automatically doing our daily tasks, with our minds already planing the next thing on the to-do list. And in this process, we never TRULY experience and enjoy our present moment!

This is SO normal in our crazy, busy, over-filled lives. So no judgement from me! I’m right there with you!

“I’m just so busy – this is just life for me!” I hear you say.

Well, I will try to convince you that, the busier you are, the MORE you need some mindful (mentally present) moments in your life.

…and you’ll be surprised to hear, that there is a REALISTIC way of getting these moments!

 

What exactly is Mindfulness?

It’s more simple than you might think. Mindfulness originates from Buddhist teachings on meditation, but don’t let that scare you! It’s not really about meditating for hours on end.

Mindfulness is bringing your attention to your senses: touch, sight, smell, hearing, taste and proprioception (feeling your body’s position). Usually one at a time!

For example, you might bring your attention to the feeling of your body, slowly moving from your feet to your head (this is a body scan). You might bring your attention to the sensation of your breath. Or you might focus on particular sights, sounds, tastes or smells in your environment.

This can take anywhere from 10 seconds to ….as long as you want!

Sounds simple – right?

While it’s essentially simple, it’s nevertheless difficult to stop and apply a moment of mindfulness when you’re in a crazy busy time of your life! (I feel your pain!!!)

So…  hearing WHY mindfulness is important might help to increase your motivation to stop and take a mindful moment more regularly.

 

Why is Mindfulness good for me?

Stopping the hamster-wheel in your mind for a moment is SO. GOOD. FOR. YOU!

But I think, intuitively, you already knew that.

When you stop, observe your senses and slow down your breath (aka. have a mindful moment), this slows down your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, lowers your cortisol level (the stress hormone) and basically signals to your body that you are safe!

These are all physical and mental things that we struggle with when we are too busy. So adding in a little mindfulness is ESPECIALLY important for the busiest of us!

Yes – it’s difficult to fit it in, but keep reading! The next section shows that it doesn’t have to take a long time!

A lot of scientific research has praised the benefits of mindfulness, but I want to focus on a lovely systematic review study by Howarth et al. (2019).

This is why…

 

Just 5 to 25 minutes of mindfulness!

Ana Howarth and her team at the University of London reviewed the findings of 84 experimental studies looking at mindfulness. But what’s most interesting is that the vast majority of these experiments only gave ONE single session of mindfulness to their participants (only lasting between 5 and 25 minutes)!

Amazingly, 93% of the experiments resulted in significant positive health effects!

There was a mix of study participants. The majority were ‘general’ healthy people, and 19 studies included specific groups of people with an underlying health issue.

In BOTH groups, a very BRIEF mindfulness session had positive results!

 

Improved memory & lowered stress

The study’s results indicate that including very SHORT mindfulness moment into your life could increase how you enjoy yourself day-to-day AND how productive you are at work!

This is so because mindfulness improved:

  • Memory and attention
  • Cortisol (the stress hormone), negative emotions and overall emotional regulation. Both in a real-life context, and when stress was induced on-purpose in an experiment.
  • Lowered perceptions of pain (when induced by an experiment)
  • Cardiovascular reactivity (which indicates better heart health)
  • Healthier eating or smoking behaviours

 

Reduced pain & lowered blood pressure

And not only did ‘generally-healthy’ people benefit from stress reduction and improved mood, but people with serious health conditions benefitted from a very BRIEF mindfulness experiment.

 

Specifically, the study saw:

  • Lowered blood pressure in hypertensive men with chronic kidney disease
  • Improved body satisfaction in participants with eating disorders
  • Reduced pain-related distress, and lower perceived intensity of pain in patients with chronic or acute pain.
  • Improved brain-function for those with a traumatic brain injury

 

How do I fit Mindfulness into my CRAZY life?!?

I’m sure you appreciate the amazing findings by Ana Howarth and her team at the University of London (2019), but are still thinking:

“That’s great, but I HAVE NOT got time to sit and breathe!”

And I hear you loud and clear.

The beauty of mindfulness is that is doesn’t have to be a proper ‘session’. You can fit it into you life in little ‘snacks’! (Just like how you can exercise by exercise ‘snacking’ – see my blog on this here).

 

Some examples that are EASY to fit in to a crazy busy life:

  • 2 minutes of mindful breathing in your car after you’ve dropped of your child at nursery or school.
  • 3 minutes of mindful breathing as you stand in your garden, letting the winter/summer sun warm up your skin.
  • 2 minutes of mindful breathing as you wait for the kettle to boil in your office kitchenette
  • A 5 minute body scan (maybe listening to an audio guide), just as you come home from a stressful day of work.
  • A 10 minute yoga practice (or a longer one!) where you focus on mindful breathing and feeling the sensations in your body.
  • 1 minute of mindful breathing while you’re in the loo!!!

Do you get the idea? You can do it at ANY time of day, in ANY clothes, in ANY place!

 

The take-away message?

Basically – the busier you are, the more you NEED mindfulness. Or you risk life passing you by like a runaway train. (As well as risking an upward creeping blood pressure and stress level!)

And, thankfully, it is POSSIBLE to add very SHORT mindful moments into your day. This can be as simple as a few slow breaths in your car, stopping to let the sun shine on your face, or a short yoga practice on your kitchen floor.

(Hint hint: I can help you with that short yoga session! I have a bunch of 10, 15 and 20 minute online classes!)

 

To conclude…

I hope that this blog will help you to realise that you deserve those mindful moments.

That taking a moment is SO GOOD for you. And because you’ll be less stressed and more attentive it’s also good for everyone AROUND you!

You deserve this. ❤️

Need a little help?

If you need a little help getting started with 15-20 minutes of mindful yoga at home have a little look at my classes… 😉

Learn more about BendyLife yoga...

I hope you enjoyed this mini blog. 🤓

Please share your views in the comments below!

Jolanthe x


Reference

Howarth, A., Smith, J. G., Perkins-Porras, L., & Ussher, M. (2019). Effects of brief mindfulness-based interventions on health-related outcomes: A systematic review. Mindfulness10(10), 1957-1968.

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