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How to practice mindfulness to achieve your goals

Mindfulness is a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s present experience without judgment (APA). Anyone can learn how to be mindful through practice. Keep reading to learn how!

NOTE: This is an older post from a past blog theme before the 2023 rebrand.

How I got into mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice in which your mind is focused on the present and its happenings, your current actions, and your current space. It doesn’t come easy to many at the start, and it certainly didn’t come easy to me.

Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

With pretty high anxiety and recurring ADHD issues, I felt my mind take off when I started trying mindfulness. I often felt myself get wrapped up in my obsessive thoughts about the future, which is what mindfulness was meant to chase away. I worried about getting my money back for junk I paid for a long time ago (and sometimes, I still do). Getting stuck on thoughts that I wasn’t doing enough for my pets was common. I’d fret about my job.

The future is definitely one of my sore spots and is something I find myself using mindfulness for to take me away from that anxiety. For me, and obviously others as well, the idea of not meeting my goals and passions for the future is pretty depressing.

But, in time, I grew my ability to be able to snap right back to where I currently was and what I was currently feeling and doing. This mindfulness made me feel mellow, motivated, and uplifted.

‘But I can’t meditate!’

Contrary to what you might think, mindfulness does not mean meditation. You can make mindful meditation be one of your mindfulness exercises if you want, but you don’t need to bust out the yoga mat and candles to be mindful. For me, taking a moment to clear my thoughts in the elevator up to my office or washing my face was the perfect time to be in the present. Sometimes, I brought in some meditative qualities by lying flat on my back a few minutes and being mindful before trying to sleep.

In the elevator or in front of the mirror washing my face didn’t take extra time out of my day, because mindfulness doesn’t need you to take extra time. Some people do and some people don’t. The idea here is to find what mindfulness habits work for you.

Benefits of mindfulness

The benefits of mindfulness that I have seen in my own life through my own mindfulness habits are emotional, interpersonal, health and professional benefits.

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With anxiety, I would fixate on even the littlest of misfortunes, causing me emotional havoc. With mindfulness, I have found that the past and future don’t stress me out as much, my depressive episodes don’t take me out like they used to, and I am less distracted because I am less anxious.

I have found that with mindfulness, it has been easier for me to let go of harmful interpersonal relationships and make new ones. I have been able to cut harmful people out, and on the other side of the coin, be confident and collected enough to reach out and make new connections!

The emotional benefits to mindfulness are connected to my health benefits. With less stress, I’ve experienced far less anxiety-induced acid reflux incidents, I’ve gotten much better sleep, and my migraines have become less frequent.

Finally, mindfulness helped me realize I needed a job change and also helped me focus on my professional networking instead of fixating on what was wrong with my then-job. No more retail work of any kind for me! This focus has helped motivate me into pursuing a master’s degree, right in the city that brought on one of my most vital turning points!

In total, mindfulness has made it so much easier to achieve my economic, career, and mental well-being goals. With less emotional and physical hurdles in your way, you’ll find it’s not that hard to get what you’re aiming for!

Mindfulness exercise ideas to try

Now that you’ve gotten an idea as to what mindfulness is and how it can help you, you can figure out what to do next. Developing your own mindfulness habits or routine that caters to you is the next step. Here are a couple of my favorite mindfulness exercises to help you find your own rhythm.

Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash
The good old-fashioned body scan

This is a common one, and one that I do often, especially when my anxiety is particularly bad. You can do this lying down, sitting, or standing. The idea is to focus on one part of your body at a time and think about how each part feels. Try to focus on the sensations in your body.

Without touching, how does your face feel? Does your hair tickle your ears? What do you feel when you breathe in and out? Focus on each of your limbs and how they feel to simply exist.

Taking five minutes or more to do this as you wind down to sleep can help you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep.

Mindful breathing session

I’ve done this one at my desk a few times, especially post-lunch break to prepare me to start work again.

Take three minutes and try to do this one sitting, especially if you’re a beginner to mindfulness. Inhale deeply for three seconds and then slowly exhale for three. If your thoughts begin to wander, try to bring yourself back with another three-second inhale and then three-second exhale.

If you find you have physical trouble doing this exercise, modify the breathing exercise to suit you or stop the exercise entirely and find another. Do not do a mindfulness exercise that causes you physical or mental distress.

More mindfulness activities for your daily routine

Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash
  • Mindful eating – take the time to eat instead of rushing. Enjoy each bite, focusing on the texture and flavor of your food. Do this during your lunch breaks to make your career more fulfilling and less stressful.
  • Mindful stretching – take a minute to stretch either your arms or your legs, one at a time. With each arm or leg, focus on the way that limb currently feels during the stretch. Feel the way your muscles move and relax. Do this for 15-30 seconds for each limb. Stretch gently; do not over-stretch. Great for doing at your desk at home or at work, and getting in and out of bed.
  • Mindful spotting – take a minute to take a seat or lie down and focus on five things that you currently see in the space around you. Describe those five things to yourself, and describe them in a way that is ‘in the now,’ rather than describe a future use for the object or where it came from. This is one of my go-tos when things feel really bad.
  • Mindful touching – for as long as you’d like, take some time to touch one other part of you. I like running my fingertip along the fingertips of my other hand to feel the grooves of my fingerprints, or feeling the dips in my collarbone area. Think about how the skin (or clothes) on these parts feels under your fingertips.

Ways I’ve used mindfulness to combat hoarding disorder

One of my biggest issues is that I spend my money buying stuff to combat anxiety. In other words, I’m a compulsive shopper. Mindfulness has helped me to be conscious of how the item that I’m looking at can currently help me, currently be used, and if I currently need it, or if I am making up a need to meet the want. This mindful spending has cut my spending down to a third of what it used to be a year ago, effectively crushing my initial finance goal.

I have also used mindfulness to consider if an item I already own currently makes me happy. Only the happy items stick around. Any items that don’t make the cut get donated or sold to make up for part of the money I bought them for. This really helped me meet my goals to own and hoard less.

Final thoughts

Still looking for more mindfulness information and exercises? My go-to for just about anything is YouTube.

Using mindfulness is a great way to remove the emotional and sometimes physical roadblocks keeping you from meeting a deadline or achieving a personal goal. I’m so grateful that you’ve chosen my blog post to help you get into mindfulness! With practice, it can help you like it has with me. Mindfulness, due to being in the present, is a constant journey. I am not done building my mindfulness skills and won’t ever be done with this ongoing process. However, I am so happy with my results so far.

Thank you so much for reading! If you would like to receive my newsletter with future posts, consider subscribing to my blog. See you soon!

Bek

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