As 2020 chugs along, there have been more than a few hurdles thrown our way. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the general elections starting up, more people than ever are suffering from the deleterious effects of stress. Unfortunately, bath bombs can only go so far when it comes to easing your stress for the long-term. Just like a corroding pipe will continue to get worse, so too will your stress. That is, unless you make the effort to do something about it.

Mindfulness has become a huge buzzword lately, and for good reason: this practice is one of the best ways to prevent stress from impacting your well-being. Mindfulness is defined as the practice of being present in the moment: doing something with intent and noticing the world around you. When we’re constantly bombarded with stress and the never-ending to-do list piled high before us, it can be hard to focus on the present moment.

During stressful times such as these, it’s more important than ever to practice mindfulness. Studies have shown that those who practice mindfulness have less stress, lower levels of depression, and a better ability to focus. When you incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine, you’ll often wonder how you ever lived without it.

Here are some of the best ways to practice mindfulness.

Start each day with a goal in mind

When you wake up, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks you have to perform each day. The best way to start practicing mindfulness is by establishing a goal at the start of each day.

This doesn’t have to be a big goal, but it should pertain to your own health and well-being. This greatly differs from your work goals or activities that you want to set. Calling a plumbing contractor to fix that corroded pipe is one thing; remembering to take a breather to avoid stress is another.

For example, your goal could be to acknowledge when you’re feeling stressed and why it has affected you in a negative way. You shouldn’t beat yourself up if you’re not able to achieve this goal: simply starting each day with a goal in mind is an act of grounding and mindfulness that can set your day up for success.

Try meditating

Meditation is the act of tuning out the outside world and focusing on your breathing. For some people, meditation and mindfulness go hand-in-hand. Allow stressful thoughts to come, but don’t dwell on them. As soon as you start to feel your mind begin to wander, try to focus on your breath again to stay grounded.

It’s recommended that you try meditating when you’re not in a seriously stressful situation. That would be like asking a hydraulic load cell to work past its 75-degree capacity. While calming yourself down is essential, your primary goal should be to deal with the situation, not practice mindfulness. Rather, establishing mindfulness as a part of your everyday routine will result in the best outcomes.

Try to practice meditation in the morning to start the day off right. You should also try to perform this meditation in the same place and at the same time for the best results. This will also encourage you to make it a part of your daily routine.

Once you’re done meditating, you will likely feel more relaxed, grounded, and present. Try to carry this feeling with you throughout the day to encourage mindfulness for the long-term.

Acknowledge the stress

Coping with stress is all the more difficult if you’re wrapped up in your anxiety. Acknowledging when you’re feeling stressed out enables the caregiver to put a wall between yourself and your stressor.

By identifying when you’re feeling stressed, it’s almost as if you’re distancing yourself from these negative emotions. Some people might even acknowledge their stress by verbalizing it: saying, “I am feeling stressed and this is okay” might feel a little clunky at first, but it’s a great way to separate your feelings from your person. When you are able to acknowledge anxiety and stress, this is the first step in stopping these feelings from overwhelming you. Noticing when you’re feeling stressed is also a great way to help you avoid significant stressors in the future.

Practicing mindfulness is a life-long process and you likely won’t feel the benefits after doing it once. Once you do it regularly, however, you will see ample benefits. You’ll be able to focus more efficiently on tasks and remember important tasks, like shredding your mail. But with practice, engaging in mindfulness is one of the best ways to thrive as a caregiver and prevent burnout.