Be Mindful

Is your mind full or are you mindful? That’s a very important question to ask yourself in today’s fast-paced society. If your mind is full, it’s possible that you are stressed out and in need of some powerful stress management techniques. Let’s dig deeper into how to be mindful, instead of having your mind full!

Do you know what stress really is?

Well, the answer is that it is an automatic physical and emotional response to challenges to any actual or potential threat to our well-being.
Ten thousand years ago it was necessary for the human survival to rapidly increase stress hormones to enter the “fight or flight” mode. Nowadays, in modern society, you rarely have to fight physically to survive. Yet, the same things are still happening to your body, whether you are experiencing a real threat or just exposed to daily mental stressors such as:

•             traffic jams,

•             work deadlines,

•             arguments with your colleagues or partner,

•             unpaid bills, and other worries.

 These daily mental stressors can easily make you feel strained. This is, unfortunately, a part of modern life. All of us experience stress in our lives, but as you can imagine, stress in itself is not dangerous – it’s actually a survival mechanism. It’s the lack of recovery and lack of stress management that is dangerous.

Relaxed vs Stressed
During the day, we shift between relaxed and stressed states. Temporary and moderate stress is not bad. It’s essential to keep us going through the day and fuel our performance. If our stress level is too low, we can feel lethargic and lose motivation. If it’s too high and prolonged, it can lead to burnout. So, it’s all about the balance and ‘lagom’ amount (the just enough) of both stress and relaxation.

Effects of stress
Most of us have experienced physical effects of stress. When we get stressed, our muscles tense and we get tight shoulders, headaches, or our breathing quickens, and our heart rate increases. These reactions to stress are our body’s way of telling us to pay attention and make some changes to reduce our stress levels. Many studies link chronic stress to diseases, such as heart disease, decreased brain function, impaired immune function, gastrointestinal disorders, altered endocrine system, depression and more.[1]

Chronic stress can also lead to unhealthy behaviours, such as emotional eating (increased cravings for sugar and fatty foods, contributing to weight gain), smoking, increased consumption of alcohol, conflicts in family and at work, etc. That’s why it’s so important to deal with stress before you lose yourself and don’t prioritize your recovery.


Stress management
Even though stress is a part of everyday modern life, some people are blessed with the ability to cope with stress much better than others. For those who aren’t that blessed, we can learn powerful stress management techniques that can help us deal with daily stressors and support our health. I would recommend you to try one or several of the below stress relief techniques that can be performed anywhere, anytime.

  • Breathe deeply in and out several times and try to lower your shoulders with each breath
  • Roll your shoulders forwards and backwards to release tension
  • Stretch your neck from side to side:
  1. bring your ear to your shoulder
  2. hold for 10 seconds
  3. relax and repeat on the other side
  • Smile! When we smile, the cheek muscles contract, which signals the brain to release chemicals that helps us relax
  • Practise mindfulnessMindfulness can be a good technique to support emotional well-being. 

Let’s dig deeper into what mindfulness is!

What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to what’s happening exactly now, BUT without putting any thought into it. And now you are probably thinking: ”How am I supposed to pay attention to something without thinking?” Well, I can assure you, you are not alone. We, humans, love to think – that’s what makes us unique in the animal world. But we need to learn how NOT to think sometimes, and just experience instead. There will still be enough time to think. It’s all about the balance between thinking and experiencing.

Let’s make an analogy with exercise.

Exercise is great for us, but if we exercise 15h/day we can hurt ourselves. To gain the best results, it’s important to balance activity with rest. If you take time to rest, you will also top up your performance. Thinking is mental exercise. You could say that we are running daily marathons when we are doing different types of thinking such as; analysing, comparing, evaluating, imagining, judging, predicting and problem-solving. It allows us to achieve and produce things with our minds. But without proper rest we can’t function at our best!

How to practice Mindfulness?

Let’s see an example of how to practice mindfulness! A wonderful way to practice mindfulness is to take a walk in the nature, not thinking, but just experiencing.


If you are walking through a forest and thinking about something else, like challenges at work or exciting new plans for the future, you are not practicing mindfulness, you are thinking.

If you are thinking about the forest – about what it looks like and how that makes you feel – you are not practicing mindfulness either, you are thinking.


So how can you ‘only’ experience instead? Well, when you are experiencing, you use all your senses, without reflecting.

You are noticing and acknowledging what sounds you hear, like birds, crickets and the blowing wind.

You are noticing and acknowledging what you smell, such as autumn leaves, pine trees, freshness after the rain or new flowers blossoming.  Just noticing ,but NOT thinking of what these scents make you think of, such as your childhood, for instance.

Noting and acknowledging how the ground beneath your feet feels like when you’re walking. If it’s soft, hard or even spongy.

It may be challenging to keep your full attention on it for a longer time, especially when you just started with the practice.

But that’s OK. Don’t stress or push yourself. Try to be mindful for at least a few minutes and add a bit more next time.

Basic Mindfulness meditation

Another way to practice mindfulness is to perform a simple mindfulness meditation.

1. Sit in a comfortable position. It might be a good idea to close your eyes to remove distractions

2. Focus on aspects of your breathing. Sensations of air flowing into your nose and out of your mouth or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale

3. Notice when your mind wanders from your breath. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. Don’t worry. There’s no need to block or eliminate thinking. When you notice your mind wandering gently return your attention to the breath.

4. Be kind about your wandering mind

  • You may find your mind wandering constantly – that’s normal, too.
  • Instead of wrestling with your thoughts, practice observing them without reacting. Just sit and pay attention, and accept that they are there – it’s OK.
  • As hard as it is to maintain, that’s all there is. Come back to your breath over and over again, without judgment or expectation.
  • This is how we train & strengthen our attention.

5. When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze

  • If your eyes are closed, open them.
  • Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment.
  • Notice how your body feels right now.
  • Notice your thoughts and emotions.
  • Continue with your daily activities.

     For optimal results try to meditate for 10-20 minutes daily.

    Consistent practice is more important than the duration of individual sessions. If you feel very uncomfortable doing the practice, don’t push yourself, but try some other form of mindfulness exercise.


Mindfulness in your daily life

Paying full attention without thinking might be easier said than done, especially when you feel very stressed and your mind is racing. That’s why it’s so fantastic that you can actually choose any task or moment to practice mindfulness in your daily life, like when you’re:


  • Walking or exercising
  • Showering or taking a bath
  • Playing with your kids
  • Spending time with friends, family or your pet
  • Listening to music
  • Pampering yourself with your skincare routine
  • Eating

 Incorporating mindfulness in your everyday life is simple, fun, doesn’t require extra time investment and delivers great results when practiced daily.


Mindful eating

Have you ever found yourself sitting in front of the TV with lots of snacks right next to you and suddenly the bowl of snacks is empty? How could that happen? Well, what’s happened is that you haven’t been aware of your eating and you have most probably not enjoyed the snacks either. This is mindless eating.

Mindful eating, on the other hand, is about awareness. When you eat mindfully, you slow down and pay attention to the food you eat and savour every bite.

Mindful eating is to;

1.            Eat healthy nourishing foods that make you feel good and that you like.

2.            Eat while experiencing the food and appreciating its sensory attributes that trigger our senses of taste, smell, texture and appearance.

3.            Eat without feeling guilt and anxiety about food. We need to work on accepting our bodies as they are, accepting our food wants and needs and our emotions surrounding food and our eating habits.

4.            Eat when feeling physical hunger. Use your hunger and fullness to guide your food choices.

5.            Eat slowly and without distraction to truly taste the food.

6.            Eat until you are satisfied

 There are actually several benefits of eating mindfully. You will experience less stress, increase your awareness, have better appetite regulation and less overeating.[2]  In other words, Mindful eating is super efficient to incorporate in your lifestyle when you are on a weight loss or weight maintenance regime. So how do you start eating mindfully?


Start small
Implementing can seem daunting when you live a busy lifestyle and barely have time to sit down to eat. Start with one meal a day or even one meal a week. Small steps really do make a difference and can lead to lifelong habits. Focus on the process, it will keep you motivated and engaged.

Slow down
Sit down at a table and take your time to eat and enjoy your meal. Put down your fork between bites or eat with your non-dominant hand or chopsticks (if you’re not used to it) to slow down the pace, which makes you experience the food more. Take small bites and make sure to properly chew your food – this will also help with digestion.

Remove distractions
Turn off the screens and phones and focus completely on the food in front of you. This also mean to sit by yourself and not eating with a co-worker, friend or family member. It's 'me-time'.

Use your senses
Use all of your senses to really experience the food. Focus on the way your food looks: What colours do you see? What shapes do you see? Is there steam coming off of your plate? What does the food smell like? Can you identify any spices? What is the texture of the food? Place your hand over your plate, does it feel warm? Or cold? When you place the food in your mouth, what is the texture? The temperature? When you bite into it, is it hard, chewy, juicy? What sound does it make when you bite into it? Does it make a crunchy sound? What does it taste like? Is it sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami? What flavours stand out the most? Name the flavours to help focus attention.

Enjoy your food
Savour each bite or drink. Enjoy the taste and texture experience.

Eat when hungry

Listen to what your body is telling you.


  • If you’re hungry – eat.
  • If you’re full – stop eating.


During the meal, don’t just re-fill your plate out of habit, take time to check if you’re full already, or almost there. If you feel like eating, really think about it – if it’ physical hunger, then eat, if you’re thirsty – drink, or if you are just bored – do something else to get your mind off eating, like going for a walk. Children are very good at focusing on one thing at a time. When eating cake, they are only eating cake and pay attention to just that – nothing else matters. So, a good idea could be to practice to being more like a child and pay your full attention to your food.


Benefits of Mindfulness

Practicing Mindfulness on a regular basis can lead to a lot of beneficial outcomes, regardless of which type of mindfulness you practice. It can either be meditation or a part of your everyday life. Benefits include decreased stress[3], reduced anxiety and depression[4], increased attention[5], improved sleep[6] and decreased binge eating and emotional eating behaviours[7]. Awesome, right?!



Mindfulness and mindful eating are not something that is easy, and putting old habits and diet culture aside can be difficult. Learning how to listen to your body takes time and is a continuous process that needs conscious work.


[1] Yaribeygi H, Panahi Y, Sahraei H, et al. The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI J. 2017;16:1057-1072.

[2] Dalen J, Smith BW, Shelley BM, et al. Pilot study: Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL): weight, eating behavior, and psychological outcomes associated with a mindfulness-based intervention for people with obesity. Complement Ther Med. 2010;18(6):260-264.

[3] Orme-Johnson DW, Barnes VA. Effects of the transcendental meditation technique on trait anxiety: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Altern Complement Med. 2014;20(5):330-341. doi:10.1089/acm.2013.0204.

[4] Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EM, et al. Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(3):357-368. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13018.

[5] Jha AP, Krompinger J, Baime MJ. Mindfulness training modifies subsystems of attention. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2007;7(2):109-119. doi:10.3758/cabn.7.2.109.

[6] Martires J, Zeidler M. The value of mindfulness meditation in the treatment of insomnia. Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2015;21(6):547-552. doi:10.1097/MCP.0000000000000207.

[7] Katterman SN, Kleinman BM, Hood MM, Nackers LM, Corsica JA. Mindfulness meditation as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss: a systematic review. Eat Behav. 2014;15(2):197-204. doi:10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.01.005.

Words by: Photographs by: Oriflame