Why Mondays? You can be mindful any day of the week, right?
Well, of course. But the concept of "Mindful Monday" holds a special appeal for us—and not just because we’re suckers for alliteration. For most, Monday signifies the first day of a brand-new week, a fresh start and a time to reflect on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. In other words, Monday presents a great opportunity to tap into the power of your mind.
“Mindful Monday” can take different forms for all of us, but in a nutshell, it entails making a point to include periods of mindfulness throughout the day. Whether you choose to meditate for a few minutes before getting out of bed, taking an hourly break for some deep breathing or incorporate some other strategy, mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment and being fully aware of your thoughts, feelings, body and mind.
Focusing on the Here and Now
As humans, we tend to either be worrying about the past or planning for the future—rarely are we grounded in what is happening right in front of us, notes Julie Frischkorn, director of behavioral health and mindfulness for PeopleOne Health. Many of us become immersed in scrolling through our phones, zoning out in front of the TV or wandering through the day without really noticing the details around us. “We lose out on our ability to enjoy the small moments of sweetness in our day or pick up on things the first time around,” Frischkorn says.
Practicing Mindful Mondays can help you reap the benefits of the present moment, allowing you to start the week with a reminder to be present no matter what the week throws at you. “With this objective, we are less likely to miss out on the simple pleasures or create more work for ourselves in the long run,” notes Frischkorn.
Yes, You Can Be Mindful and Productive
When you’re drowning in emails and deadlines on a busy Monday, mindfulness may seem more like a luxury than a necessity. But as Frischkorn points out, there is a misconception about mindfulness being a relaxation exercise that requires slowing ourselves down. In practice, it’s actually about fine-tuning our mental muscle for attention and focus.
“Many in the business world worry that if their employees practice mindfulness, they will be less productive or lose their edge,” she says. “But data has shown that participants with regular mindfulness practices are actually sharper, more focused and better able to tackle tasks with precision and poise.”
From Manic to Mindful
Wondering how to make time for mindfulness during manic Mondays? Frischkorn suggests trying these simple yet satisfying practices:
- Practice gratitude by letting one person know, in real-time, that you appreciate them.
- Eat the first three bites of a meal with awareness, noticing the temperature, flavor and consistency.
- Take a deep, full breath in and out each time you pick up your phone to check missed calls, emails or social media.
- Notice the sensation of your feet on the floor, your body weight in the chair, your clothes on your body or your feet in your shoes as a way to “level-up” your awareness of your body.
- Set an intention for the day—not what you want to do that day, but how you’d like to do your day. For example, instead of saying “I will go to the gym, get to bed early and eat vegetables,” reframe your approach by saying, “I will live courageously, be kinder and find the silver lining.”
There is a popular phrase in the mindfulness field: “Begin again.” Frischkorn sees the phrase as a soft mental note to ourselves, a signifier that when we lose focus and get off track, all is not lost.
“When distraction happens, our mindfulness practice helps us to notice that we have wandered and [should] refocus with the invitation to ‘begin again,'” she says. “While it is wonderful to start our weeks with intention, mindfulness is a journey and not a destination. We will have many opportunities during the week to return to a mindset of present-centered awareness, and can do so with a gentle reminder to ourselves to ‘begin again.’”