Mindfulness in Daily Living
Emotions and Self
- Mindfulness can help reduce stress, promote self compassion and fertility outcomes.
- Follow the 5 strategies to introduce mindfulness into daily living.
What is Mindfulness?Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations without judgement. In today’s life, when we are so used to being busy, multitasking, worrying about the past that we cannot change, or about the future that hasn’t happened yet, mindfulness is all about creating a pause in our day to day life.
Eckhart Tolle in the book ‘The Power of Now’ says, “The quality of your consciousness at this moment is what shapes the future”. It’s our ability to be fully present that allows us to make decisions and take actions that determine our future.
Impact of MindfulnessMindfulness has been researched over the years, in high quality studies that identified clearly the changes that happen in our brain waves when we practice mindfulness. Some of the benefits are:
- Reduced stress
- Enhanced performance
- Gaining insight and awareness
- Experiencing negative inner states in new ways
Mindfulness and FertilityWhen it comes to infertility, mindfulness can also be an important tool. As we experience distress that comes from fear of the unknown, fear of unmet reproductive goals, fear of not being loved, fear of not being enough, mindfulness can help us reconnect with our body and mind and perceive our experience in a different way.
Research on mindfulness programmes during fertility treatment has shown that:
- Improves the psychological well-being
- Positive relations with others
- Purpose in life
- Personal growth
- Quality of life
- Developing meaning-based coping strategies
- Mindfulness also decreased reliance on avoidance-based coping strategies (e.g. avoiding pregnant women) to deal with thoughts and emotions related to IVF and infertility.
- At six months post-intervention, mindfulness participants were significantly more likely to have become pregnant (45%) than were controls (26%).
- Being fully aware of the present moment without the lens of judgment, seems to help women relate to their infertility and IVF treatment in new ways.
Mindfulness and Daily LivingYou may be thinking “how do I incorporate mindfulness into daily living?”. The answer is that it is in fact very easy. Mindfulness doesn’t require us to change who we are or to develop any skills that are too challenging. In fact, all we have to do is cultivate our innate qualities with simple practices that are scientifically demonstrated to benefit ourselves, those around us and the world.
1) Introducing short pauses into everyday life: start by introducing short pauses, where you allow yourself to stop, and appreciate what is happening right now, without judgement.
- One thing I can see
- One thing I can hear
- One thing I can feel
- One thing I can taste
- One thing I can smell
2) Set affirmations: choose one or two affirmations that you repeat to yourself every day. The one I have been using for a couple of years is “I’m committed to being in a state of peace, love, joy and gratitude”.
3) Mindful Activities: think about activities that you do every day, as routine, and make yourself get out of the automatic pilot mode and be mindful during those activities.
- Teeth Brushing: for example, be mindful of when you are brushing your teeth, the smell of the toothpaste, the sensation it triggers in your mouth, what movements you are doing with the toothbrush.
- Mindful Eating: try mindful eating, looking at the food, the colours, the way it looks on the plate. Bringing it closer, noticing the smell, the texture as it touches your tongue, the taste.
- Mindful sex: let go of any thoughts about egg/sperm and conceptions and instead, notice your partner, his/her skin, the smell, the shapes and sensations, how they feel in your body.
4) Mind-Body Connection: listen to mind-body mindfulness recordings to help you focus on the present moment. A 3-minute body scan is a way of connecting with every part of your body and your surroundings.
5) Gratitude Diary: start a gratitude diary, to be mindful of all the special moments you are grateful for today.