There are big things that make us happy—Instagram-worthy beach vacations and pricey spa treatments come to mind—but it’s the small things that keep us sane and smiling on a daily basis. That’s why we’re partnering with Clinique on a new series examining the little things that’ll make you feel and look your best on a daily basis. Check back every week for ways to take your life from good to great, whether that means finding a foundation that boosts your confidence (try Clinique’s Even Better Glow™ Light Reflecting Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 15) or learning how to eat more mindfully.
If you've ever sat around with a group of friends discussing New Year's resolutions, then you know this to be true: We humans are always on the quest for self-improvement. And why shouldn't we be? You won't find us complaining about being too happy or too healthy anytime soon. But where do you start when your self-improvement to-do list is seemingly a mile long? Enter: mindfulness. You've likely heard the word being thrown around a lot lately. And it's a hot topic in wellness circles because the concept is a simple one.
As defined by Merriam-Webster, mindfulness is "the practice of maintaining a nonjudgemental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis." But we understand that actually incorporating the practice into your everyday life can prove more challenging. To give us some insights, we reached out to Lynne Goldberg, a meditation teacher and founder of the app Breethe. So sit back, relax, and read on for four steps to being more mindful.
Our hectic schedules require us to be hyper-proficient multitaskers—we make dinner while responding to work emails, checking our Instagram feeds, and catching up with our friends on speakerphone. But while this may seem productive, Goldberg argues that if we're not fully present, we can't truly appreciate what we're doing. "Have you ever noticed that your body could be at the most beautiful beach but your mind is back at the office?" she asks.
To focus on being present, Goldberg suggests focusing on bringing your mind and body into the same place. Put a concentrated effort into paying attention to what you're thinking, hearing, and doing. It also helps to physically remove distractions, whether that means muting your TV set or leaving your phone in another room.
Focus On Your Breath
We breathe constantly, but breathing consciously can be one key change that increases mindfulness. As a meditation teacher, Goldberg is an expert in breathing techniques, an essential aspect of mindfulness. To practice it for yourself, try the "balloon breath." Find a comfortable place in a quiet room, and start to inhale through your nose with your hands on your stomach. Feel your stomach fill up with air and expand like a balloon. Then slowly exhale through your mouth. Simply focusing on an action we otherwise do thoughtlessly can create more mindfulness in other aspects of our lives.
Goldberg also suggests taking a guided meditation class, either in person or virtually with an app like Breethe.
Slow Down Your Meals
While we can (and should) be more mindful with nearly every activity in our lives, Goldberg feels it's especially important to incorporate this practice into our eating habits. After all, we eat several times a day, and what (and how) we eat affects our health. In an experiment conducted by Cornell's Food and Brand Lab, researchers found that moviegoers who were offered stale popcorn in a large container ate 35% more than those given the same snack in a medium container. This proves that portion control is important and that people eat mindlessly when multitasking, even if they're not enjoying the actual taste of the food.
While Goldberg isn't necessarily advising we skip the snacks next time we're at the theater, she does believe that "learning to eat mindfully helps us to pay attention to the foods we eat and to actually enjoy them more, as well as notice when we are full." Her solution is quite easy: Pay attention to your senses. First, spend a moment acknowledging the appearance and aroma of your food. Then take note of the taste and texture as you eat. By slowing down, you're more likely to notice if you're jumping ahead to the next forkful.
As with every lifestyle change, consistency is key. Mindfulness will quickly become second nature if practiced on a regular basis, says Goldberg. Whether you prefer focusing on your breathing or slowing down a meal, Goldberg suggests spending five to 10 minutes every day being mindful. Choose one activity a day, and focus on it without any other distractions. To keep yourself accountable, Goldberg says to set an alarm (without hitting the snooze button). We're also fans of writing down reminders in a notebook and physically scheduling time on our calendars.
Ready to make your life even better? Check back next week for more tips—and in the meantime, shop the Clinique products that'll improve your makeup routine every time.