Hayley is a social media influencer, blogger, and life-long academic, currently earning a Bachelor of Public Health. In this post, she shares practical ways to unleash mindfulness into your daily life.
I was first introduced to mindfulness in a third-year mental health class at my university. Everyone entered the room, found a seat, and did what most university students do when they enter a lecture hall — open their laptops, pull out their phones, and scroll through their social media feeds.
In this class though, as soon as the professor walked into the room, we were told to put all of our devices away. While looks of dread cascaded through the lecture hall, little did we know that our professor was about to introduce us to mindfulness. For the rest of the semester at the beginning of class, my classmates and I would abandon technology, sit with our eyes closed, and our professor would lead us through breathing exercises and uninterrupted silence for five minutes.
It’s so hard to be fully present, and these weekly mindfulness attempts reminded me of this. Slowly but surely, I became more aware of my breathing, my movements, and my thoughts. I would sometimes drift off — wondering what's for lunch or thinking about upcoming deadlines. But that’s just what our professor intended to teach us — that mindfulness is a practice that needs to be learned.
Through my newfound mindfulness practice at school, I started to notice that I could focus better in lecture, and I saw my productivity and grades increase as a result.
What I discovered from this experience is that making mindfulness part of your day doesn't have to be difficult or daunting. In those moments where focus is needed, like before an exam or some big presentation, mindfulness can be a secret weapon. And what's most valuable about mindfulness is that it's entirely up to you how you practice it — there's no single recipe for success.
Below are some practical ways I've eased mindfulness into my daily life — how you modify this guide for your life is up to you.
It’s surprisingly easy to incorporate mindfulness into your morning routine. It's as simple as setting aside a few mindful minutes as soon as you wake up to get into the right headspace for the day. A morning practice helps clear your head of everything else that you might have been holding onto from the day before — and doing it first thing makes it easier to become a habit.
Some ways to approach this is through taking five minutes to stretch as soon as you get out of bed — this forces you to think about nothing more than breathing through your stretches. Sitting upright in bed with your eyes closed, legs crossed, and breathing in and out consistently for three minutes is another easy way to get started.
2. During the Day
We all need a break sometimes. Whether you're knee deep in a paper that's due tomorrow or just can't seem to focus on a grueling chapter, stepping away from whatever you're working on can be extremely helpful for your productivity.
Mindfulness in this case could be as simple as going for a walk, stepping away to make a cup of coffee or pot of tea, or closing your eyes and taking deep breaths. If you choose to practice mindfulness in these moments, which I normally do, set a timer for 15-20 minutes before getting back to work. Don't distract yourself with social media or other mindless distractions in between — your brain deserves a break, so give it one.
Living in a digital world makes it hard to disconnect and be present. Thankfully, since mindfulness is an intentional practice, it can really help you take some moments for yourself in the evening if you just try.
Instead of spending valuable personal time scrolling through your phone, consider going offline for a few hours (or minutes — I get it, baby steps). Go for a walk or to the gym, make dinner, write in a journal to reflect on your day, or read a book or magazine. It's also okay to just do nothing.
Taking crucial moments to step back and become fully present will make you happier and more productive when you dive back into your deadlines and other work.
What I've learned is this: anyone can and should incorporate a little mindfulness into their daily lives.
When you’re fully present and in the moment, just a few times each day, you might surprise yourself with all of things you’re able to accomplish — which is exactly what happened to me. The beauty of it all is that mindfulness is unique to you — it's your own practice that you can build and grow. But like any practice, it takes time, patience, and consistency to become meaningful, and it's up to you to give yourself that opportunity.
Hayley holds an Honours BA in Sociology and is currently working on her Honours Bachelor of Public Health. An avid learner, you'll find Hayley either focused on schoolwork or plugging away at her job as a social media manager and influencer for a popular public health organization. In between work and school, Hayley manages her own #studygram account (@haylstudies) and a blog. As much time that Hayley does spend online, she appreciates abandoning social media and you'll usually find her outdoors, reading a good book, or taking a nap.