We all lead extremely busy lives and are pulled in a million directions at once. One way to help manage the stress that our hectic lifestyles produce is by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surroundings.
Practicing mindfulness also involves acceptance in that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judgment, meaning there is no right or wrong way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, we tune into what we’re sensing at the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future. Since different techniques work for each individual, mindfulness includes a wide range of practices so that you can find what works for you.
While mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist meditation, it is now widely accepted as a stress management technique due to the many positive effects it has on the mind and body. Mindfulness is used in a variety of settings including schools, prisons, hospitals, veteran programs, and beyond. Read more about how your body and mind benefits from mindfulness.
Here are ways to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday activities.
- Practice during routine activities. Instead of being on autopilot, pay attention as your brush your teeth, take a shower, or walk to work and class. You might find these activities are more interesting than you thought.
- Practice right when you wake up. This will set the tone of your nervous system for the day and increase the likelihood of other mindful moments.
- Let your mind wander. There are neurological benefits to noticing your mind has wandered, acknowledging it nonjudgmentally, and then gently bringing it back to the task at hand.
- Keep it short. Our brains respond better to bursts of mindfulness. Aim to be mindful several times a day, for 20 minutes or less.
- Use prompts. Pick something you encounter to serve a cue to remind you to shift your brain into mindful mode. This could be a room you regularly visit on campus, an alert on your phone, or an already existing daily habit such as drinking coffee.
- Learn to meditate. Meditation is the language of mindfulness. Learning and practicing meditation helps you be better able to access mindfulness. Mind Body Green has some great online meditation resources to get you started.
Free mindfulness classes
Health Promotion and Wellness offers free mindfulness classes for Illinois State students and employees over the summer and throughout the academic year. Classes meet once a week for four weeks. Each week participants learn a new mindfulness skill and practice using the concept.
Here are the dates and times for fall 2016 classes:
- January Mindfulness Class for Employees
Meets Fridays from noon–1 p.m. January 13 through February 3
255 McCormick Hall
- Wednesday Mindfulness Class for Students
Meets Wednesdays from 3:30–4:45 p.m. February 1 through 22
186 McCormick Hall
- April Mindfulness Class for Students
Meets Tuesdays from 3:30–4:45 p.m. April 4 through 25
262 McCormick Hall
Classes are free, but registration is required. Space is limited and classes usually fill up. Wait list spots will be released on a first come, first served basis. Reserve your spot today online. Please contact Health Promotion and Wellness at (309) 438-WELL (9355) or at Wellness@IllinoisState.edu with any questions. Check out additional ways Health Promotion and Wellness can help you stress less.