We live in a busy world and it can be hard to slow down. We often don’t realize how they can take a toll on our well-being. However, mindfulness plays an important role in your overall health. Learning to practice regularly can improve your emotional and physical well-being.

What is mindfulness and how can you start and integrate mindfulness into your everyday life? We chatted with mindfulness expert and yoga instructor, Sam Squire, about the ins and outs of mindfulness and how you can use it in your daily life for improved wellness.

Q: What is mindfulness?

A: Simply put, mindfulness is about being present without judgement in every moment. It’s a way of being, not relaxation spelled differently. There’s a myth that happiness is a natural state of being and we tend to think something is wrong if we’re not happy and we need to change it. Mindfulness teaches us to sit with our feelings (the good, the bad and the ugly) and embrace any and all emotions.

Q: Why is mindfulness important for mental health?

A: Since hunter-gatherer days, humans have been hardwired to look for danger and comparison as a means of survival. Back then, survival meant being fit and strong. That’s not the case anymore but we still have this fight-or-flight response to stressful situations. Our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) is calmed by our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). Befriending your nervous system communicates to the brain to relax. These are my three favourite ways to do that.

  • Deep breaths: Lengthening your exhale helps send more oxygen to the brain, helping you relax.
  • Cold water: Take a cold shower or take a dip in the ocean.
  • Humming: This can help to mechanically stimulate relaxation.

Q: What is the importance of developing a mindfulness routine?

A: When it comes to a mindfulness routine, consistency is key. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Even if you start by sitting down and taking a few deep breaths, start with a few minutes a day and build your way up. Studies show that 27 minutes of mindfulness a day is the magic number if you want to see results.

Q: What are some effective ways to practice mindfulness?

A: If you’re new to mindfulness, start to integrate mindfulness into your existing routines. Think of an activity you do every day like eating a meal, brushing your teeth. Every time you do that daily activity, use that time as an opportunity to be more mindful. Take note of what you see, hear and feel. To ground yourself in a new space, practice mindfulness when you walk into the room. Take note of three things you see, two things you feel and one thing you hear.