Mindfulness, one of the most mentioned words in recent years. What is mindfulness? It’s a state of being conscious or aware of something, a practice and a lifestyle mentality. Then what are mindful moments? Mindful moments, in essence, refer to any moments where one focuses on the present purposely. So any moment counts. What are your mindful moments?
Text: Ophelia Wu
In some ways, a mindful moment is somewhat similar to the Danes’ hygge. It’s a state of mind - you can find it anywhere, alone or with anyone, anytime. A mindful moment can be appreciating the beauty of a blooming flower, savouring the scoop of ice cream or that cup of coffee. Mindfulness and mindful moments are very personal, and they are unique to all of us because it is a mentality that weaves into our lifestyle that means something to us. The key is to be fully aware of this particular moment that has your attention, that is your mindful moment.
As an international living in Denmark, sometimes we are so consumed with daily life and all sorts of stress, and we forgot to look after ourselves and what we enjoy. Remembering this is the first step. Taking a moment out of all the chaos in life is healthy. We need to ask ourselves, what do we enjoy doing? How do we relax? That is usually an excellent place to start.
Here are a few straightforward tips for finding your mindful moments:
Don’t feel compelled or stressed that you need to do this - it is a good practice but do it when you feel it’s easy. That’s the easiest way to kick start and bring a new habit into your daily life. The whole idea is to de-stress, build up these mindful moments and slowly live a conscious life.
Start with consciously taking ten counts of deep breaths, and while you do that, focus your attention on each one. For example, are you breathing through your nose and filling all the air into your belly? Can you smell the air nearby? Can you feel the temperature around you? When you breathe out through your mouth, can you feel your body relaxing and slowing down?
If you drive to work, turn off the radio or music, let yourself immerse in the silence and focus on driving and all your senses. If you go to work on public transport, put on the headphone but keep it off. Or do it on your way home to unload all the work-related stress before arriving home. Allow yourself this private space and time.
Instead of multi-tasking, do one thing at a time. If it’s not possible at work, try this at home. When you focus on just one thing, you become sensitive to details that you might not have noticed before.
Switch off your phone and computer during meals. Eliminate distractions. Focus on your food- how do they taste? What’s the texture and temperature? Savour every bite. Try to have a silent meal once a week, so easy to do when you choose to have one meal alone, but as a family or a group, doing that together can be fun. It is a bit awkward at first not talking, but the feeling will leave you all very rejuvenated. Remember when people signed up for all the “dining in the dark” experiences? That’s the whole point- when one of your senses is temporarily off, all the others will automatically heighten. When you stop talking while you eat, you pay attention to the food you’re enjoying — not consuming, enjoying.
Go for a walk in nature, go outside. Denmark has so much to offer, take a stroll and clear your mind. Feel the wind, listen to the rain, bask in the warmth from the sunlight, smell the scent on a brisk day. It’s healthy for both your mind and your body.
Take a few minutes and write down 1-3 things you’re grateful for every night before bed. Living in a foreign country is stressful at times, but there are things to be thankful for, even in the most stressful environment. Having a bed to sleep on safely at night is a blessing already.
Plan your day. We all live a fast-paced life with different responsibilities at work and home. Take a few minutes to plan your day gives you clarity and an overview of where you can fit in your mindful moment. When you plan, you’re focused on prioritising tasks, organising your brain and your day and conscious of the flow of your day. Booked in a relaxing spa? That gives you something positive to look forward to, and make that spa time your mindful moment of that day! Catching up with a friend who’s in town for work? Be sure to clear your schedule/ phone calls/ meetings around that slot, and put your phone away to focus purely on your lovely time with your friend. Picking up your child from school? Do all the grocery shopping before that and focus on the quality time you share with your child.
We can all easily incorporate these simple ideas into our daily lives. However, finding our ground and calmness in life needs practice, and we hold the ultimate power to pull ourselves back to the anchor that keeps us steadfast in any storm we may face. Being in an unfamiliar environment for many of us expats, making an effort and time to practice mindfulness, and finding our mindful moments every day will support us in this unknown yet exciting journey. It only takes twenty-one days to form a habit; you have made that big move to Denmark - now allow yourself the chance to start living a mindful life full of little mindful moments that keeps you going with more positivity.
Denmark has so much to offer, take a stroll and clear your mind. Feel the wind, listen to the rain, bask in the warmth from the sunlight, smell the scent on a brisk day.