How to Practice Mindfulness: Quick Tips for Busy People

Mindfulness has captured our attention for all the right reasons. Research has long painted a picture of its benefits for various mental and physical issues. But learning how to practice mindfulness doesn’t always come naturally. Often, it feels like a game of tag with yourself—quieting your mind, focusing on the present, getting distracted, trying it all again, until eventually throwing in the towel. Sound familiar? Let’s dive into what mindfulness is and how to weave it into your life.

What is mindfulness?

According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness is about paying attention to and accepting the present moment as it is. It’s intentionally tuning into your experiences—your breath, thoughts, emotions, and senses—in the moment, without judgment.

So, it’s about being aware of and accepting the present moment without judging whether it’s good or bad. Simple, right? Not so fast. In practice, it’s focusing, drifting into thoughts, realizing you’ve wandered, and guiding yourself back (without yelling at yourself for getting distracted again). Mindfulness isn’t rocket science, but it takes practice. The good news is there are countless ways to easily incorporate it into your daily routine.

Why is mindfulness important?

Scientists have been exploring the power of mindfulness for decades and have shown how valuable it can be for improving both mental and physical well-being. Mindfulness can be as effective as medication in easing anxiety and may also help with depression, stress, and even chronic pain. And here’s the bonus: it keeps your mind sharp, potentially fending off cognitive decline.

But the benefits don’t end there. Other positive effects of mindfulness include:

  • Boosted immune function and fewer sick days
  • Sharper focus and fewer distractions
  • Healthier blood pressure and heart
  • Improved mood
  • Better sleep

With all these benefits, learning how to practice mindfulness may feel like a magical cure-all, but that’s not the case. In fact, mental health professionals recommend learning how to practice mindfulness because it’s a way to break old patterns and make healthier choices.

Quick tips for how to practice mindfulness

Mindfulness works best when it becomes a habit. Here are some ideas for how to practice mindfulness:

  • Practice mindful breathing: Take 3-5 minute breaks or dedicate 15 minutes daily to focus on your breath. When your mind wanders, gently guide it back.
  • Try guided meditations: Many apps offer short, easy mindfulness practices and meditations you can slip into your day.
  • Learn progressive muscle relaxation: Release tension by squeezing and relaxing muscles one by one from head to toe.
  • Do daily tasks, mindfully: Infuse mindfulness into everyday activities like cooking, washing dishes, brushing your teeth, or taking a walk. When doing these activities, focus only on that task versus anything else.
  • Slow down: Resist the urge to rush through tasks. Focus on one thing at a time to stay in the present.
  • Connect with a mindfulness coach: Consider seeking guidance from mental health coaches to develop and enhance your mindfulness skills.

Remember, mindfulness isn’t a one-size-fits-all practice. It takes various shapes—try different ways to practice mindfulness to find what works for you.

How to practice mindfulness at work

Work can sometimes be a rollercoaster, but your mental health matters. Here are some tips for practicing mindfulness at work:

  • Focus on what you can control: Identify what’s within your control, such as getting tasks done on time, reacting to others with kindness, and returning your mind to the present.
  • Say no to multitasking: Resist the allure of multitasking, Although it can be enticing, research shows it actually hurts productivity. Engage deeply in one task at a time for better results.
  • Cultivate gratitude: Acknowledge positive moments like a kind word from a co-worker and adopt a growth mindset to ease the pressure of perfection.
  • Try mindfulness in small doses: Even a few minutes of mindfulness at work, such as focused breathing or a short walk, can have a positive impact.
  • Practice, not perfection: Regular practice, even in short bursts, hones your mindfulness skills. Perfection isn’t the goal—progress is.

Learning how to practice mindfulness isn’t a shortcut to instant happiness or a shield against life’s challenges. Instead, it invites acceptance and a more balanced way of moving through the world. By letting go of the quest for inner bliss and embracing your thoughts and feelings as they are, you might just experience greater peace throughout the day.

Cultivate your mindfulness practice.

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About the reviewer
Lauren Cunnningham

Dr. Cunningham has over a decade of clinical and administrative behavioral health experience. She received a doctoral degree in counseling psychology from Ball State University and has authored publications on crisis prevention in schools and sexism toward women in the military. Previously, she held several mental health-focused roles in the United States Air Force, receiving many honors including the Air Force Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service and the Air Force Achievement Medal. She also served as CEO of Blackbird Psychological Services, providing and supervising psychological evaluations for the Department of Defense and Veterans.

Clinically reviewed by
Lauren Cunnningham
By The Lyra Team
1 of January 2024 - 3 min read
Mental health tips
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