The Mindful Switch

In today’s hyperconnected, instantaneous, and constantly evolving world, where we are perennially bombarded with information, emotions, thoughts and judgments, it is our body, and most importantly our mind that bears the brunt. This stress and anxiety of daily life manifests, in physical and mental dimensions, through disrupted sleep cycles, poorer eating habits, lower self-esteem, and more fragile and distant relationships.

Mindfulness is an ancient practice that has gained increasing prominence in the last few years, as a tool to combat and counterbalance the stressors of today’s life. Mindfulness can be described as the ability to pay attention and increase awareness of the current moment, in a curious, open and non-judgmental manner. In doing so, by developing, an approach of mindfulness, one can experience their daily life without either getting too fixated, or too distanced from their immediate experiences.

Mindfulness has been shown to provide multiple benefits in brain functioning and activity, including growth in the prefrontal cortex, and shrinkage in the amygdala [1]. These two changes are especially important when considering their impact on the way we respond to and manage our daily distress. Growth in the prefrontal cortex increases one’s ability to focus and sustain attention, while shrinkage in the amygdala reduces the activation of the “fight-or-flight” fear response. In combination, this reduces symptoms commonly associated increased levels of anxiety and stress.

Mindfulness is all about bringing focus into your present moment. Unlike what is commonly believed, the only way to attain the benefits of mindfulness is not by carving out specific times or routines to practice mindfulness. Although that has shown to be very effective, mindfulness can also be incorporated as a part of daily life. Therefore, one can practice mindfulness just by starting to pay more attention to each of the activities they are performing, such as when they are eating, or taking a walk, or brushing their teeth, or on their commute to work. One needs to pay deeper attention to each of the activities they are doing, by connecting with one’s senses and taking “mini pauses” to absorb the current stimulus. One great way to focus on the moment, is to observe one’s breathing, which brings attention back to the self. There are also several app’s that are now available to help individuals start incorporating short mindful pauses in their daily hectic routines, which can be a great first step towards a more mindful life.  


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/

Written by:
Sukriti Drabu
Psychologist & Counsellor

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