5 Ways to Slow Down and Be Mindful Today, the items we want or entertainment we crave are at our fingertips in no time. The new skillet you need? Delivered in two days. That TV show you've been dying to see? An entire season available overnight. Wondering how your brother on the other coast is faring? Check his Instagram. Ever since information became a search bar away and computers started fitting in our pockets, the speed of our days has been accelerated. Much good comes of all the new advances but sometimes we need a little break. We need to put on the brakes and slow down so that our mind and body can recharge and reconnect. The health benefits of practicing mindfulness can be boiled down to four elements, according to a Perspectives on Psychological Science study: body awareness, self-awareness, regulation of emotion and regulation of attention. To help you shift into a lower gear and focus on the moment, here are 5 tips for mindfulness:
  1. Take a deep breath.
Hold it for a count, then let it out more slowly. The simple practice of making your exhale a few counts longer than your inhale signals to your brain to turn up your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls your rest and relax response and promotes a state of calmness. Repeat the simple exercise frequently throughout the day to reduce anxiety and stress.
  1. Take in your environment.
"Mindfulness is being aware of what is happening now—internally, within the mind itself, and externally with what you are touching, seeing, hearing, smelling, and tasting. With mindfulness, you can place yourself right between past and future," writes Buddhist author Paul Gerhards. To connect to your environment through the mind, try this easy 5 Senses in 5 Minutes routine and focus on engaging each of your senses for one minute.
  1. Take out your phone.
No really, this sounds counter intuitive but you don't have to navigate the art of mindfulness alone. There are many great meditation apps out there that can help guide you and make it easy to begin. (Our favorite is Headspace. The amazingly simple video explanations and soothing British accent drew us in.)
  1. Take a walk.
Not all mindfulness must occur while seated. In fact, getting outside in the fresh air - and in nature - can help bring you back to the present and strengthen your concentration and make you more aware. "Walking meditation, also known as mindful walking, is an active practice that requires you to be consciously aware and moving in the environment rather than sitting down with your eyes closed." Ready to walk? Begin here with The Chopra Center's Mindful Walking Practice: How to Get Started.
  1. Take a break at work.
Short breaks throughout the day have been shown to improve your focus and make you better at your job. All it takes is a few breaths. Set a calendar reminder or book meeting time with yourself for a few minutes throughout the day to close the computer and concentrate on your breath. Setting your intentions for the year and sticking to them will be challenging, so take time to check in with yourself and how you exist within the space around you and stay on track to better health.