Daily meditation is a powerful tool for managing your stress and enhancing your health. But bringing present-moment awareness to all your daily activities is important.
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Wellness expert Melissa C. Young, MD, shares simple but powerful tips for incorporating mindfulness into your everyday life.
“Daily meditation can help relieve your stress and enhance your thinking,” Dr. Young says. Become aware of your breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils, or your belly as it rises and falls.
You can also try this simple exercise, to start:
- Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage.
- Breathe in slowly through your nose. You want to feel your stomach rise and push against your bottom hand while the hand on your chest remains still.
- Exhale through your mouth, allowing your belly to fall again.
- Repeat three times.
Even when you’re not meditating, you can practice mindful breathing throughout the day by taking breaks to breathe deeply. “Diaphragmatic breathing fosters calmness and focus,” Dr. Young says.
Slow down, eat mindfully
Mindfulness applies to eating, too. In fact, studies show that employing mindfulness techniques can be helpful in reducing binge eating and emotional eating.
“Sit down to eat each meal and lay your fork on the table between bites,” Dr. Young advises. “Chew slowly, savoring your food’s sight, taste and smell, so you can better enjoy and digest it.”
And as you try to swap mindless snacking with mindful eating, aim to nourish your body — and mind — with fresh-picked, local food, as from farmers markets. Seasonal, colorful produce is packed with healthy phytonutrients.
Find opportunities for mindfulness
Throughout the day, identify opportunities to practice mindfulness. Consider the following:
- Focus on one task at a time. Studies show that multitasking doesn’t really work and actually makes us more frazzled and less focused. Instead, practice moment-to-moment awareness in your everyday activities. Whether you’re doing laundry, washing dishes, driving or cooking, give your full attention to each task.
- Listen well. Listen actively and mindfully to your coworkers, family members and friends. “Strong relationships and broad community networks are good for your body and spirit,” Dr. Young says.
- Appreciate the natural world. As you take a walk, drink in nature’s majesty by tapping into your senses: Take in the sights, smells and sounds surrounding you.
For additional help in identifying moment of mindfulness, download a mindfulness app. Just search “mindfulness” on your smartphone or tablet to find free apps available for your inspiration — and convenience. Consider Jon Kabat-Zinn Meditations, Insight Timer, Calm and Headspace.
Wind down at night
One hour before bed, dim the lights and draw a warm bath with lavender essential oil and Epsom salts, which have been shown to relax muscles and relieve pain.
To make your bath time even more meaningful — and mindful — set aside electronics and enjoy an inspirational read to help your mind wind down before bed.
Being grateful is good for your health. Research shows that an attitude of gratitude is associated with better mood, better sleep, less fatigue and lower levels of inflammation.
To put your gratitude into practice, keep a gratitude journal. Start by writing down five things you’re grateful for at least three times a week, working up to more if you’re so inclined.
“It’s a wonderful way to bring yourself back into the present moment,” Dr. Young says, “and it feels good, too.”