Here’s a little-known fact about mindfulness: It’s super easy to practice it any time, any place, in any situation.
“People tend to confuse mindfulness with meditation, so they think they need to sit on a cushion for 30 minutes to be mindful,” says Mitch Abblett, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, and author of Growing Mindful: Mindfulness Practices for All Ages. Not true. “Meditation is a form of mindfulness, but the latter is more about dropping into a mindset than it is about carving out quiet time and sitting a certain way.” (Not that meditation needs to be difficult, either.)
This means—you guessed it—you can practice mindfulness in any situation, no matter how hectic. And you should: “The more you practice mindfulness, the more present you are in all the moments of life,” says Abblett. “This doesn’t block stressful events, but it allows tension to move through you more easily.” In fact, research shows that mindfulness can improve your mood, help you manage a heavy workload, and ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Not sure where to start? Try these quick tips to practice mindfulness on the go—no crazy-long yoga class required.
If you really want to practice mindfulness anywhere, you need to learn the basics first. “Everyone is always looking forward to what’s next, instead of truly being where they are at the moment,” says Abblett. (He calls this “nexting”.) So, stop what you’re doing—yes, right now—and observe your current state: If you’re sitting, how does your back feel on the chair? If you’re outside on your phone, look up at the trees swaying in the breeze. Is there a dog barking in the distance? Children playing in the park? Run through your five senses (sight, sound, taste, smell, touch) for five minutes.