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Running on autopilot? Slow down with these 5 morning habits

Are you taking in every moment or going through the motions? These small habits can help you slow down and find peace every day.
Use every day activities that you tend to do mindlessly — like brushing your teeth — as a way to train your mind to focus on the outside world.
Use every day activities that you tend to do mindlessly — like brushing your teeth — as a way to train your mind to focus on the outside world.TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

After almost a year of living in quarantine, many of us are feeling the effects on our mental health.

Do you feel as if you walk around life on autopilot, going through the motions but never really seeing, hearing, embracing, enjoying or experiencing life? Do you ever truly hear what others are saying to you, or are you busy multitasking and carrying out your own conversations in your mind while they speak to you? Are you taking in every moment and living a life of presence? With the added stress of the pandemic, it's harder than ever to live in the moment and find pleasure in every day.

If you would like to have a more mindful existence and a richer life experience, the following five suggestions can help.

1. Be here now.

For 10 minutes each morning, do everything with great focus and purpose. Meaning, if you are brushing your teeth, look at the toothbrush. Really look at it. Now watch yourself putting the toothpaste on your brush. Notice every detail. Think about how you are brushing your teeth.

You are training your mind to put the focus on your outside world, instead of living inside of the mind thinking of the past or future and missing what you are experiencing right now.

2. Stop talking.

For 10 minutes each morning, go on silent retreat. Notice when you want to speak and what your mind wants you to say. Notice how you want to respond immediately to questions and rarely allow for space.

3. Mindfully choose your words.

Practice pausing for a couple of seconds before speaking, making comments or answering or asking a question. Feel yourself want to say something, pause, think about what you want to say, then mindfully choose your words. Many of us fear pauses in conversation because we are afraid that during that silent space, others will become uncomfortable or judge us.

4. Listen for silence.

Placing your mental focus on silence will pull you into the present moment. It will take alert, attentive focus to come away from mental chatter to listen for silence. Listen to the space between the words you hear spoken. You can spend the first five minutes of each morning doing this practice or whenever you would like to bring yourself back into mindfulness.

5. Pretend you are being watched by reality TV.

To bring your mind’s awareness on what is happening right now, allow your mind to give a play-by-play of every action. Allow your mind to watch your every action, and talk about it as if it were describing a scene of a movie or writing a book. For example, “She is now sitting at a computer in her bedroom typing. She is writing an article to help others practice mindfulness. She has her feet under the covers slightly.”

It’s funny, I didn’t even realize how I was sitting until I just practiced mindfulness.

Give it a try. You will be amazed at how much more of life you take in — and how much more at peace you will feel — when you direct your mind's focus onto everything that you experience, moment to moment.