Your Ultimate Mindfulness Guide: Become More Happy and Less Stressed

By Krista

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Last Updated: January 6, 2023

Feeling stressed? Overwhelmed? Are you struggling to live in the moment? 

Sadly, this is becoming many people’s norms. And this probably isn’t a huge surprise; The modern world we live in tends to overstimulate our minds and tug at our attention—more than any other time in history (thanks technology!). But this doesn’t mean we can’t gain back control.

Enter: Mindfulness.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), states that,

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” 

Basically, mindfulness is about being aware of what we are doing and feeling in the moment.

This makes us less reactive and less overwhelmed by the world around us.

  • But why else should you practice mindfulness?
  • And how can you practice it?

In this guide, we dig into everything you need to know to become a mindfulness guru.

 

 

Why is Mindfulness Important?

The idea of mindfulness might sound a little woo-woo. But there’s actually tons of research on it, especially regarding mental well-being and health.

A scientific review dating back to 2013 on mindfulness stated that,

“mindfulness brings about various positive psychological effects, including increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation.”

Further research on mindfulness suggests that it may help alleviate depression and anxiety due to the fact that it helps with emotional regulation.

In other words, mindfulness is powerful.

And this is definitely one superpower you want to flex.

Plus, it’s not all about mental well-being. Becoming more mindful can also enhance your physical health in many ways, including:

  • Relieving stress
  • Reducing your risk of heart disease
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Reducing chronic pain
  • Improving sleep
  • Alleviating gastrointestinal dysfunctions or problems

So, now that we know the benefits and why we definitely want to incorporate more mindfulness into our own lives, let’s dig a little deeper. 

 

 

What Are the 3 Pillars of Mindfulness?

The problem is that many of us go about our days on auto-pilot.

We go through the motions but aren’t really fully in the present moment, missing key aspects of enjoyment that go along with this great trip called life. We also tend to react, which can lead to some less-than-desirable outcomes and consequences.

Becoming more mindful breaks this cycle, but it does take practice. All mindfulness practices incorporate the three major pillars of mindfulness, which include:

  1. Intention: This allows us to foster that awareness and return to this new level of awareness when we need to.
  2. Attention: This means paying attention solely to the present moment, not what happened yesterday or what may happen tomorrow. It’s all about the now. What do you feel? What thoughts do you observe?
  3. Attitude: Mindfulness requires a non-judgmental attitude, along with some curiosity and kindness (especially when it comes to your own thoughts!). 

Keep all three of these pillars in mind as you practice and cultivate mindfulness. Now, to the next layer!

 

 

What Are the 7 Principles of Mindfulness?

On top of the basic three pillars of mindfulness, the seven principles of mindfulness further help you actively practice mindfulness, particularly as you go about your day-to-day life. These mindfulness principles were created by Jon Kabat-Zinn. So, what are they?

Non-Judging

We all judge. But the act of judging isn’t something we can always shy away from.

Mindfulness involves being aware of your own judgments and being able to separate them from your actions so that you aren’t acting or speaking from a place of judgment when it comes to others or yourself. After all, the world isn’t black and white.

Patience

Rushing through life is a surefire way to get to your deathbed and wonder what the heck happened.

Instead, be patient with life. Enjoy the journey, and take the emphasis off the destination.

Beginner’s Mindset

Our egos tend to get in a way of a lot of goodness.

We like to think we know it all, but the truth is we don’t. Practicing mindfulness includes tackling ideas, problems, or activities from a beginner’s mindset—meaning approaching these aspects as if you know nothing at all.

Trust

This is all about trusting your own decisions and beliefs.

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to follow your intuition and let it guide you. Inevitably, you want to be open to growth, but you also should be self-assured in your decision-making process.

Non-Striving

This means accepting yourself where you are at.

Yes, we can all improve and be better. However, you first need to acknowledge and accept yourself as you are. Embrace this person in the present moment, and don’t continually strive to be different. Instead, be who you are.

Acceptance

No, you don’t need to become complacent.

Rather, it’s accepting reality for what it is. Some things simply can’t be changed.

Letting Go

It’s easy to worry about the future and experience anxiety about our actions from the past.

Yet, letting go of these thoughts allows us to truly live in the present moment.

 

Related Article: 4 Ways You Can Practice Patience When Things Feel Out of Control

 

 

How Do I Practice Mindfulness?

Becoming more mindful inevitably takes practice. Remember, be patient. You’ll get better at it as you go. So, knowing the benefits, how can you become more mindful? 

1. Meditation

Well-known Buddhist teacher, nun, and author, Pema Chodron, has said,

“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we already are.”

Meditation is about observing your thoughts. Ultimately, we can never completely get our thoughts to vanish. Yet, we can become observers of our own mind, allowing us to chose our reaction and actions in the moment. 

With meditation, you sit quietly with your eyes closed. Setting a timer for a couple of minutes can ensure you’re not distracted by losing track of time. Thoughts will come and go. The key here is to observe them. No judgment. 

Alternatively, you can practice mindfulness meditation through the many online guided options, such as with the Insight Timer app, Headspace, or YouTube.

Try setting a few minutes aside each day (such as first thing in the morning or right before bed). This mindfulness practice is a great stress reliever and can definitely give you a leg-up when it comes to being more mindful.

Related Article: How You Can Master Meditation: The Calming Art of Mindfulness

 

2. Slow Down

Okay, this might be obvious, but for busy-bodies, it’s harder than it sounds.

Rushing through your day often creates more angst, such as doing tasks incorrectly or in sloppy and quick ways. 

Instead, slooooow doooooown.

Seriously. Allow a task to take up the time it’s meant to take up. Give yourself space to have enough time to complete activities in the present moment. Notice how you feel as you do that task or activity. Be present. Try it out; how do you feel? Less stressed? Probably!

A few more notes here…

  • Try eating slowly without distraction, meaning when you sit down to have a meal that is all you do.
  • When someone is talking, give them your full attention. Try not to think about what you want to say next. Instead, aim to understand what they are saying.
  • Try sitting for brief periods without distraction or anything to do. Simply look to appreciate the present moment and everything you have in your life.
  • If you’re having trouble slowing down, prioritize. Plan ahead. Create some space to become mindful and to elevate your life to the next level.

 

3. Set Limits on Your Electronic Devices

Is technology shrinking our attention spans? Unfortunately, experts seem to think so. 

In an interview with The Guardian, Dr. Sharon Horwood elaborated,

“What we do find with technology like smartphones and tablets is that they have the tendency to increase our absent-mindedness, reduce our ability to think and remember, to pay attention to things and regulate emotion. Most of us have our phones within arm’s reach. Even the possibility of a message or a call or something happening on social media is enough to divert our attention away from what we are doing.”

In other words, our attention spans are stretched to the limit with technology. Luckily, we have control over this.

  • Put away that phone.
  • Close that laptop.
  • Turn off Netflix.

For some, this might sound scary (which means you definitely want to be doing this from time to time!).

Now, just be. Do a non-digital activity. Play a game with friends. Live in the moment and truly enjoy the moment. Allow your attention to be diverted to only one thing at a time. This will allow you to cultivate mindfulness and truly live your life as opposed to watching it pass you by.

 

4. Get Outside!

In contrast to digital devices, getting out in nature can truly expand our ability to foster mindfulness and be present.

This may mean hiking without music. Sitting and appreciating nature in all its glory. Or performing an activity, like rock climbing or yoga, amongst the shadows of a tree canopy. 

In fact, research shows how practicing mindfulness within a natural setting helps improve mood and connectedness (to oneself and the world!). This is why a quick getaway to that off-the-grid cabin feels oh-so-good. Try it. Or better yet, make this a regular occurrence in your life.

 

5. Move Your Body

Simple enough, right? 

However, this again is moving your body without distraction. Focus solely on the movements, such as the yoga poses or your breathing. This won’t only help you become more mindful but will also help you connect with your physical body and get you in touch with your health.

 

 

Incorporate More Mindfulness in Your Life

It doesn’t have to be hard or overly complex.

Make it easy for yourself. Plan it into your days or weeks. Then, truly immerse yourself in the present moment—not just in the planned timeframe but also with every chance you get. 

The power that cultivating more mindfulness within your life can have on your well-being is, to put it bluntly, insane. Make it a priority. Your life will only be better when you do!

Read Next: Your Go-To Mental Health Resources: Here When You Need a Helping Hand

Photo by RODNAE Productions

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6 comments on “Your Ultimate Mindfulness Guide: Become More Happy and Less Stressed”

  1. I have enjoyed reading all the great articles. They are inspiring and positive. Just what this senior citizen needed. I have enjoyed the benefits of yoga for 10 years. It is amazing how much easier to withstand the aging process. I am working on meditation this year. Thanks for the support. Sandra Rollins

    1. Good luck in your meditation practice, Sandra! And congrats on your consistent yoga practice, you're right, it DOES really help in so many ways. Thank you for your support and positivity! 🙂

  2. Super article. It inspires me to follow through with being in the present and slowing down--to observe and feel connected. Thank you.

    1. Absolutely Ann, learning to slow down is a lot harder than it sounds. Keep practicing and stay inspired! Take care 🙂

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