Great Mindfulness

Seize the day (or minute, or second) with these tips for tuning in

Portrait of woman relaxing on the couch arms with eyes closed and arms behind her head.

The act of mindfulness simply means paying attention to the present moment. And it’s a powerful tool that can help you lower your stress.

“Mindfulness can help people live their lives more fully,” says Diane Reibel, Ph.D., director of the Myrna Brind Center for Mindfulness at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia. “It helps cultivate compassion, which is especially important as we age.”

The benefits extend far beyond the present moment. Mindfulness can help improve brain power, attention, and memory, and may even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Here are five easy ways to be mindful throughout the day.

Park it

Just 60 seconds of meditation can help calm your nervous system, says Roxanne Sukol, M.D., preventative medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “Pay attention to your breath,” she says. “Put your hand on your abdomen and notice it rising and falling with each breath.”

Harness shower power

The next time you shower, pay attention to how the water feels on your skin. “Even though we’re physically in the shower, our minds are often somewhere else,” says Dr. Reibel.

Fall in line

Long line at the grocery store? Take time to appreciate the food in front of you. “Gratitude is also an act of mindfulness,” says Dr. Sukol. “If a distracting thought pops into your mind, acknowledge it, then return your focus to your breathing.”

Chew it over

Savoring your food can help leave you more satisfied, says Dr. Reibel. Notice the taste and texture of your food, putting your utensils down with each bite.

Nod off

Focus on your breathing in bed, feeling the weight of your body. “Calming your nervous system lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can help you sleep better,” says Dr. Sukol. “Improving your sleep has been shown to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.”