Ways To Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Daily Life

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated April 24, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Mindfulness is the practice of cultivating a nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment. Research has suggested that regularly engaging in mindfulness can have a plethora of potential health benefits, from decreasing stress and anxiety to improving sleep quality and reducing chronic pain. Though the practice is relatively simple on its face, it can take practice to get the hang of it. Plus, there are many different ways to engage in mindfulness. These two facts can make engaging in mindfulness seem intimidating or overwhelming to some. If you’re interested in developing a mindfulness practice but aren’t sure where to start, see below for ideas on how you can easily incorporate it into your daily life.

Ways to practice daily mindfulness

Contrary to popular belief, sitting on a cushion in a candlelit room in meditation for half an hour isn’t the only way to practice and reap the benefits of mindfulness. In fact, there are many different ways to engage in it as you go about your day. Incorporating some of these simple methods into your regular routine may help you notice real benefits of mindfulness over time.

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Mindfulness can benefit your emotional health

Mindful eating

Many of us today have busy schedules and are in the habit of rushing, which can extend to our mealtimes. We might feel like we need to be productive during this time, or simply eat as quickly as possible so we can get back to our to-do list. Some might even skip some meals all together for the sake of time. However, eating can offer an excellent opportunity to practice mindfulness in addition to providing the nourishment we need to go about our day. 

For example, you might observe the colors, proportions, and smell of the food on your plate. You can eat slowly, noticing the texture of your food. You might even chew with your eyes closed and focus on isolating each unique flavor. While research on any potential health benefits of eating more slowly and mindfully is inconclusive so far, this practice could be helpful to those who are trying to incorporate more mindfulness into their daily lives.

Mindful waiting

As much as people try to avoid it with things like next-day shipping and online dinner reservations, waiting is still an inevitable part of life for most of us. Whether it’s when you’re standing by the door for your partner or child to get ready to leave or sitting in the lobby of the doctor’s office, most of us have fairly frequent opportunities to practice mindful waiting.

It can help you appreciate the present moment and develop a stronger sense of patience, too. To wait mindfully, you might try noticing every unique color you can see around you, seeing whether you can isolate any smells, and discovering how many separate sounds you can isolate, for example. 

Mindful walking or driving

Whether it’s on foot, on the train or bus, or in a car, many of us spend a significant amount of time commuting from place to place. In fact, the average one-way commute time in the US is 27.6 minutes. Although you may think of mindfulness as something you do while seated or otherwise stationary, it can be done during this commuting time too. 

For instance, when walking, you could pay attention to each time your feet make contact with the ground, the way your arms are swinging as you go, and the feel of the sun, rain, or wind on your skin. When driving or taking public transportation, you could note the other people or cars you pass. You could also be mindful of how your hands feel on the wheel or how your body naturally moves with the motion of the car, bus, or train. 

Mindful bathing

Similar to eating, taking a shower is something that many people do quickly each day so they can get it over with and move on to the next task. If this sounds like you, you might try doing this more mindfully from time to time. In the shower, you can focus on the sensation of the water hitting your skin and take care to mindfully wash each part of your body. In a bath, you can pause to take in and enjoy the smell of different products you may use or spend time studying the iridescent color of the bubbles on the surface of the water.

Mindful listening

You can even practice mindfulness during a conversation with another person. You can focus on the words they use to convey their message and what the emotion behind it seems to be, just as you can focus on your own body language and feelings in response to the dialogue. This practice can help you improve your ability to be mindful in various situations, and it can also help the person you’re speaking with feel truly listened to—which can help improve the interaction and the relationship. As one study on the topic suggests, those who are actively listened to tend to feel more satisfied with the conversation and with their conversational partner.

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Other ways to cultivate mindfulness

These are simple ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life, but they’re not the only ways. If you’re looking for other methods, you might also look into things like yoga, deep-breathing exercises, a gratitude practice, and ways to connect with your inner child and engage in play. Remember that it may take some time and experimentation to find the mindfulness practices that work best for or resonate most with you.

Another way to learn more about mindfulness is to speak with a therapist. Many are familiar with mindfulness exercises for coping with stress, anxiety, and other challenges. Some even practice modalities that incorporate mindfulness techniques, like mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy. Research suggests that this therapy that incorporates these techniques can help individuals increase their level of mindfulness and even decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression—even when it’s engaged online.

If you’re interested in online therapy like this, you might consider seeking it through a platform like BetterHelp. There, you can get matched with a licensed therapist who you can speak with via phone, video call, and/or in-app messaging from the comfort of home to address the challenges you may be facing.

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Mindfulness can benefit your emotional health

Takeaway

Potential benefits of a regular mindfulness practice can include decreasing stress, boosting mood, and improving overall well-being. There are many different ways to practice mindfulness, even in your daily life. You might try eating, showering, walking, driving, or even listening mindfully to improve your ability in this area over time so you can reap the benefits. You can reach out to a licensed online therapist for support in cultivating a mindfulness practice, connecting to mindfulness-based resources, or exploring other ways of emotional control.
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