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.

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 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 Spring 2020 classes:

Koru Basic

  • Fridays: February 7, 14, 21, and 28 from noon – 1:00 p.m. in 186 McCormick
  • Thursdays: February 13, 20, 27, and March 5 from 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. in 186 McCormick

Koru 2.0 (builds on what participants learn in Koru Basic)

  • Thursdays: March 26, April 2, 9, and 16 from 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. in 186 McCormick
  • Fridays: March 27, April 3, 10, and 17 from noon – 1:00 p.m. in 186 McCormick

Classes are free, but registration is required, and space is limited. Reserve your spot online today by signing into Redbird Life. 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.