Living your best life: learn how to be mindful, not mind full
June 6, 2023
For plan members, sponsors and administrators
Maarika Arget is a Senior Consultant at Manulife focused on workplace well-being.
Let’s face it. Life might be a little bit tough right now. So many people are struggling and feeling stretched to the limit. It can lead to a lot of impatience and anger.1 We all need to be able to slow down and calm our minds. But saying it and doing it are two different things. So, we talked to Maarika Arget, Senior Consultant, Workplace Well-being, Manulife. She offers excellent advice on how we can use mindfulness to clear our minds, helping us to be more productive at home and work.
Q. What do you mean by mindful?
People are being pulled in so many directions. We need to save more, spend less, do this, do that. It can be exhausting. Our minds are full. But I’m also seeing a compassion for self and others. That’s being mindful. Mindfulness is being present and aware of what you’re doing. Focus on not being reactive or getting overwhelmed.
Q. How do I become more mindful?
Mindfulness has two key features: awareness (being intentional) and acceptance. Awareness means knowing you need to do something right at the moment. It’s about living in the present. And acceptance is the ability to observe your thoughts and accept them, rather than judge or avoid them.
Many people use meditation to practice mindfulness, but you can also be more mindful in smaller moments throughout your day. To start, take deep breaths. Focus on each breath you take. Be aware of the sounds, scents, temperature around you as the air passes in and out of your body.
If your mind drifts from your breathing to your thoughts and emotions, acknowledge them and bring your mind back to your breathing and the present moment. Patterns in your negative thoughts and emotions may help you make changes or adjust your mindset. Understanding your emotions is the key to being more mindful.
If you’re not sure meditation is right for you, there are lots of ways you can be more mindful. For some people, it’s exercise – walking, running, working out can all help clear the mind. For others, it’s a jigsaw puzzle, eating without distraction, a hot bath or a ½ hour to yourself. What’s important is that it works for you.
Q. How can being more mindful help me?
When we have too much in our minds, it can be hard to focus and it can be easy to become overwhelmed. For some people, that can actually paralyze them, meaning they do less, not more. It’s a vicious cycle that’s hard to stop. If you take the time to be mindful of your life, it can help you sort your tasks into urgent, soon, later … and even never. This can help you be more productive in the long run.
Q. Where can I learn more?
There are many good sources to learn more about mindfulness, including this review of the person who started modern mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn.
The public library is a great source for books on mindfulness and meditation. You also might want to check your benefits plan to see if it offers any resources.
You can also check the internet. Here’s a list of five free meditation apps. Again, what’s important isn’t how you become more mindful, just that you find something that works for you.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, taking time each day to clear your mind is a good habit. It may not only make you feel better, but it can help you be more focused and productive, too.2 With a clean house and workspace thanks to our last article, and now a clear mind, you’ll be ready for the next article that will help you learn how to free up your time so you can do more for yourself and others.
1 The Rage Index, Looking at the mood of Canadians, March 2023
2 12 science-based benefits of meditation, Healthline, Updated 2020