Mindfulness involves paying attention to what is happening inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.
It's easy to stop noticing the world around us. It's also easy to lose touch with how our bodies feel and live "in our heads" – caught up in our thoughts without noticing how they drive our emotions and behaviour. An essential part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means paying attention to the present moment's sights, sounds, smells and tastes. That might be something as simple as the feel of a bannister as we walk upstairs.
11 ways to stay mindful during the day:
We often think being mindful requires engaging in a particular activity like meditation or yoga. Sure, those activities in our day are great additions, but you can also do many other simple things to stay mindful during the day.
1. Stretch first thing in the morning.
Doing some stretching and breathing right after you wake up in the morning will energise you and centre you for the day ahead.
2. Drink water all day.
Drink lots of water during the day, starting with a glass at breakfast. Your body dehydrates overnight, so refilling the tank early will help you be more present and energetic throughout the day.
3. Write down your top three priorities for the day first thing in the morning.
Especially before you check your email, you’ll be much less likely to get caught up in mindlessly reacting to whatever hits your screen during any given day.
4. Ask yourself, “What’s working right now?”
No matter how bad things seem, something is almost always going right. Mindfully build on that.
5. Breathe deeply.
If you take three deep breaths from your belly before and after every conversation, you'll be more present during the conversation and clear your mind after.
6. Slow down.
If you take a moment to stop and smell the roses, you'll have more appreciation for all the beauty and abundance that life has to offer.
7. Stretch and move often.
Get out of your chair regularly for at least five minutes every hour to optimise your health and well-being.
8. Get away from your desk for lunch.
Take lunch away from your desk. Your body and brain deserve the break!
9. Get outside.
No matter what the weather's like, learn to appreciate the now by enjoying the beauty of the outdoors, regardless of your scenery.
10. Eat fresh, whole foods.
Snacks like nuts, veggies or low-sugar fruit are much better for you than processed foods and will curb hunger, giving you more energy and focus throughout the day.
11. Put your phone in a drawer for at least a few hours when you get home each evening.
You may be surprised and delighted by what you notice.
Mindfulness and well-being apps you could download:
There are some great apps that support your well-being, which offer guided meditation based on the latest scientific research. We have selected some of the best apps and also highlighted ones that are free or discounted for students.
Unmind is a mental health platform that empowers you to proactively improve your mental well-being. Using scientifically-backed assessments, tools and training you can measure and manage your personal mental health needs, including digital programmes designed to help with stress, sleep, coping, connection, fulfilment and nutrition.
Unmind is free for students for 12 months via UniDays
Find out more about Unmind
This award-winning meditation app is great for individuals who want to focus on their sleeping habits, reduce stress, and achieve more with balance.
Free for your first year when you download the app.
Find out more about Balance
Headspace is a 'science-backed app' for mindfulness and meditation, providing unique tools and resources to help reduce stress, build resilience, and aid better sleep. They offer limited free features for you to try.
As a student, you can get Headspace for just £7.99 a year.
Find out more about Headspace
Mindfulness and well-being podcasts:
There are also plenty of podcasts dedicated to boosting your well-being or offering guided mindfulness sessions. Here are our some of our favourites:
The Happiness Half-Hour Podcast
The Happiness Half-Hour is a series of 10 podcasts from the BBC and Professor Hood, whose ‘science of happiness’ course at the University of Bristol has been re-packaged into 10 episodes revealing simple strategies scientifically proven to improve well-being.
Listen to The Happiness Half-Hour
The Science of Happiness
Learn research-tested strategies for a happier, more meaningful life, drawing on the science of compassion, gratitude, mindfulness, and awe. Hosted by award-winning professor Dacher Keltner.
Listen to The Science of Happiness
Here, Now, Together
Simple guided mindfulness exercises with accompanying discussions and Q&A's from Rou Reynolds on the topics of meditation, mental health and psychology.
Listen to Here, Together, Now.
Visit the Mindful May Webpage