What Exactly is Mindfulness, and How can it Benefit You?

Updated: Jan 7

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to mindfulness. It benefits each individual in their unique way and in their own time. Discover 25 ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life that you may not have considered before.



What Is Mindfulness?


Mindfulness is known as the ability to be fully present, aware of where you are and what you're doing. The expression means that your mind is paying attention to what's going on around you, what you're doing, and the environment you're doing it in.

Mindfulness is simply paying attention on purpose.

What Are the Origins of Mindfulness?


Mindfulness is a 2500-year-old concept derived from Buddhist and ancient eastern philosophy. Mindfulness has origins in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Jon Kabat-Zinn was the first to bring—and shepherd—mindfulness to the Western culture. It's important to note that mindfulness has been practiced for centuries regardless of a person's religious or spiritual beliefs or background.

Why Practice Mindfulness?


For anyone that practices mindfulness regularly, their answers to this question would be vast or, quite frankly, to stay sane.

When we practice mindfulness, the mind can focus and not become overwhelmed by the world around us. It allows us to experience glimpses of tranquility and the ability to be, feel, and heal—to be still.

This method appears to have no place in a culture that values traveling at a million miles per hour. However, mindfulness is practiced by 40% of Americans at least once a week.

The noise of the world causes us to lose touch with our bodies, goals, and serenity over time. We're on autopilot mode. Perhaps each day seems like a carbon copy of the last because we're robotically programmed.

How Do I Stop My Mind From Wandering?


Your mind will wander, and that's okay. Just because your mind keeps shifting to other areas does not mean you're not practicing mindfulness. If anything, you're now noticing your mind drift and bringing it back to attention.

Many people stop this practice because they feel they are not doing a good job—and that couldn't be further from the truth. Mindfulness is about acknowledging it and returning to attention when the mind wanders. Your mind roaming isn't a problem because you're starting to observe your habits and behaviors. Please don't take this as a sign of failure, but rather as a sign of awareness, since that's precisely what it is.




The Myth of Multitasking


This word is found everywhere, from resumes to honorable traits. As though it's a good thing. It's a focus and productivity killer.

We're not multitasking when we think we're focusing and completing more than one task simultaneously, but our brain is good at making us believe we are. We're task-switching, or quickly switching from one thing to another.

After all, doing it all gets nothing done.

What place does multitasking have in a mindfulness article? I mention it because you can train your brain to be erratic and disorganized. It's what happened to me. I became so engrossed in the multitasking mythology that I began to have difficulty focusing. I was so used to juggling multiple tasks that I wasn't completing them well. My focus was the worst it's ever been. But what was even worse? Colleagues and managers praised me and put my work on a pedestal—all in the name of multitasking.

When I started practicing mindfulness—back in my multitasking days—I used to think I could brush my teeth and meditate. Or I could go for a walk in the woods while checking my email. Could you imagine a surgeon expertly performing a procedure on a patient while also brushing their teeth and taking a phone call? I can't either.

This is why I'm telling you this story: it didn't work for me, and it won't work for you. It's your time, space, and stillness—and entirely up to you to own and be fully present with it.

Ready to break up with multitasking? How to Make or Break a Habit


How Does Mindfulness Support Mental Health?


The evidence for mindfulness's beneficial effects on stress reduction, emotions, focus, decreasing mild to moderate depression and anxiety, and preventing depressive recurrence is compelling.

When adopting mindfulness, it's crucial to keep the situation in mind. Although this practice is tremendous for mental health and many circumstances, it's best to be thoughtful of the person. It's likely not the best time to start mindfulness if someone is too sick with depression or trauma. In these situations, it's best first to seek treatment, care, and support. Right now may not be the best time for mindfulness, but in the future, it can be.

Mindfulness isn't a cure-all or a one-size-fits-all answer. It benefits each person in their unique way and at their own time.

Mindfulness in the Face of Difficulties


Do any of these phrases describe how you're feeling, a health condition, or a current situation?

• Anxiety

• Burnout

• Cardiovascular disease

• Caregiver

• Chronic health conditions

• Chronic pain

• Cognitive decline

• Depression

• Difficulty sleeping

• Distracted or unable to concentrate

• Financial distress

• Food or housing insecurity

• Front line worker

• Gastrointestinal difficulties

• High blood pressure

• Negative self-image

• Negative thinking

• Obtrusive thoughts

• Parenting

• Post-traumatic stress disorder

• Restless leg syndrome

• Suffering from addiction

• Unemployment

• Stress

• Suffering relationships

Regardless of your situation—if you're human—mindfulness is a good thing.

It's hard to identify every condition or circumstance that mindfulness can help with, but we hope we've given you a good idea of how widespread it is. Mindfulness can help you see things from a fresh viewpoint, open up to new possibilities, and improve your resilience and ability to cope with stress.

Are you a caregiver experiencing burnout? Caregiver Fatigue




25 Ways to Apply Mindfulness to Your Life


Although meditation is highly beneficial, and research has repeatedly supported this practice, mindfulness is more than that. There are numerous methods to practice mindfulness in your daily life that you may not be aware of.

1. Body scan

2. Breathing

3. Connecting with nature

4. Do nothing time

5. Emotional freedom technique exercises

6. Focusing

7. Gratitude

8. Grounding

9. Inner child healing

10. Intention setting

11. Journaling

12. Meditation

13. Mindful eating

14. Mindful listening

15. Positive affirmations

16. Sacred anger work

17. Self-kindness

18. Silent focus by staring at a candle flame, campfire, or fireplace

19. Sleep meditation

20. Stretching

21. Tai chi

22. Thought clouds

23. Visualization

24. Walking

25. Yoga

There are many ways to be mindful and nourish your spirit every day. Wherever you are, be there—live in your moment.

Stress: The Leading Cause of Illness in the United States


Did you know that stress-related issues and complaints account for 75-90% of all healthcare visits? The number is astonishing. Headaches, high blood pressure, heart issues, diabetes, back pain, hives, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety are all symptoms of stress.

During a stress reaction, your nervous system releases a rush of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. When you're in a state of stress, your stomach, immune system, brain, heart, and other systems all come into play. Their primary functions are suppressed to reroute the body's resources to activate fight or flight.

The symptoms of fight or flight are you can't digest food properly, heart rate and blood pressure rise, blood sugar levels rise, muscles tense up, the immune system weakens, and more. Stress has both psychological and physical consequences on a person.

Additional reading: How Regular Activity Keeps Your Strong During Tough Times

Your Prescription for Stress Relief


Mindfulness can help you reduce stress before it manifests itself as illness. This practice can help reduce the stress reaction, allowing our bodies to recover to a more normal state.

Additionally, it's an excellent time to remind ourselves of how and what we say to ourselves. Be patient, kind, and gentle with yourself. Replace the negative statements with positive, uplifting self-talk. We tend to be tough on ourselves, although it's so simple to be good to others. We refer to ourselves as disorganized, lazy, and forgetful. This is your reminder to take care of yourself, respect yourself, and give that inner voice some warmth and forgiveness.