Practicing mindfulness is a super powerful tool to keep you on track with sobriety and to help keep anxiety and your emotional state in check.
When we are living our lives running on auto-pilot, we are merely reacting to our surroundings and environment. If someone pisses us off we are more likely to fly off the handle or react in a way that we might regret later. We might reach for a drink when we are stressed and become unaware of the amount of alcohol we are consuming, consequently winding up in a situation once again that we have been trying to avoid.
Most of us are living our lives in auto-pilot and not taking time to get mindful and become more aware of our thoughts and our patterns. I have found a strong mindfulness practise really helpful in stressful times. It helps to bring you back to the present moment and get some perspective.
Here are some tips on how to practise mindfulness throughout your day:
1 - Become aware of your breath. Try to slow it down and take a few long, slow conscious breaths. I really like to take one or two "double up breaths". Breathing in for a count of four and out for eight. Let everything just relax on the out-breath. Long slow breaths into your diaphragm will activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which sends a signal to your brain to tell you to relax. Deep breathing gets more oxygen to the thinking part of the brain so we can make better choices.
2 - Take a moment to focus on your senses. What can you feel? What can you hear? What can you smell? What can you see? What do you taste? Becoming aware of yourself and what is going on around you will get you out of your head and redirect your thoughts away from what is stressing you.
3 - Focus on what you are doing. Throughout the day, take a moment to become aware of what you are doing. So often we just do things mindlessly and let our subconscious run the show. So when you are making a coffee, pouring a glass of water, washing the dishes, cooking, walking, hanging out the washing... whatever it is, just become aware of what you are doing. Say in your mind, "I am making myself a coffee" and focus in on yourself and the actions required to make the coffee. You could even bring steps 1 and 2 in to this as well. I might be in the shower and thinking about the water on my skin, the smell of the soap, the sound of the water, the taste of toothpaste in my mouth. I might take a few centering breaths. This brings you back to the present moment.
Mindfulness will not only help you to make better choices for yourself, research has shown that is can boost your immune system, reduce cognitive decline, help your heart health, reduce cell ageing, reduce anxiety, improve sleep and even reduce inflammation markers. It's a practise that is definitely worth bringing into your daily routine.