The term mindfulness has become popularized among millennials. This group of individuals, also known as Generation Y, were born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s. Some of the stressors this generation has had to deal with include growing up in a technology-saturated world and constantly striving for more in life (personally and professionally). Millennials are surrounded by the constant chatter of the latest social media app, obtaining the newest iPhone, the most recent country visited, pursuing higher degrees, and working among competitive peers. The pressure to do more, be more, and see more is certainly felt among millennials.
The rise in these pressures can often leave people feeling drained, disconnected, overwhelmed with societal messages, anxious, and depressed. So, how then are millennials attending to their mental well-being? Through the practice of mindfulness!
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention and noticing what you notice while remaining in the present moment. It is the practice of consciously directing your awareness and attention to the now in a non-judgmental way.
Although mindfulness has become more of a widespread practice among the millennial generation, people have been practicing mindfulness for thousands of years. This Eastern tradition is rooted in Buddhist principles and Westerners, especially millennials, have adopted mindfulness as a way of living.
There are different exercises you can practice throughout the day that can add sprinkles of peace and bliss into your routine.
1) Mindful Breathing- This exercise can be done anywhere and anytime. Bring your attention to your breath. Inhale through your nose and take a deep breath in for 3 seconds. Slowly exhale through your mouth for 3 seconds. Try to let go of your thoughts, deadlines, pending emails etc., and just breathe. If your mind wanders, just notice it wandering, and redirect yourself back to your breath. Repeat this. You can set a timer on your phone or breathe until you feel you are ready to go back to your daily routine.
2) Mindful Seeing- You can engage in this exercise while out in nature or if you’re taking a lunch break outdoors. Bring your attention to what your eyes are seeing. Try to avoid labeling or making sense of what you’re seeing. Rather, just notice what your eyes are taking in. Pay attention to the color, the shape, or the texture. If you become distracted, notice that, and then redirect your attention to the color or the shape again.
3) Mindful Listening- This exercise is like mindful breathing and mindful seeing except that you are tuning into sounds. Whether you are out in nature or at your desk feeling tense, take a moment and tune into the sounds around you. How many sounds can you hear? Again, try not to judge the sounds, but rather just notice them. By engaging this sense, you can take a break and be bring your awareness to the present moment.
4) Body Scan- This can be done either lying on your back with your palms facing up or sitting on a comfortable chair while your feet on gently resting on the floor. As you lay there, you want to bring your attention to your breath and notice the rhythm of it. Try not to change how you’re breathing but just simply notice it. Next, you want to bring your attention to your body. Scan your body and pay attention to each area (your toes, feet, ankles, lower legs, knees etc.). What do you notice? Is it tingly? Do you have an itch? Is there pain? And as you notice what you notice, try not to change it or judge it, just notice it. When you are done completing your body scan, and you feel ready to come back to the room, you can slowly open your eyes.
These exercises are just some of the many mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine or when feeling stressed. Whether this is another trend or fad that millennials are trying to keep up with, this generation is taking control of their mental wellness through holistic practices and are experiencing a decrease in stress, anxiety, and depression. Next time you are feeling stressed, just take a moment and try one of these exercises. Dare to allow yourself to welcome peace into your life.