Exercising mindfully: How to bring more mindfulness into your workouts

Exercising mindfully, mindful sporten
Leestijd: 3 minuten |

Whether you’re a die-hard gym bunny or someone that has not yet found the motivation to do regular workouts, exercising mindfully is for everyone. In this blogpost, we’ll explore the benefits of exercising mindfully and give you some tips on how to get started. 

The benefits of exercising mindfully

Let’s get one thing straight: there is absolutely nothing wrong with listening to that playlist you’ve been obsessing about and going for a run. There is also nothing wrong with letting your thoughts wander while you’re working up a sweat on the exercise bike. However, not all your workouts should be on autopilot. When you’re constantly letting yourself get distracted during training, you will lose the connection with your body and your movements.Consequents: less effective workouts, hitting a plateau, not the progress you were hoping for. So I’d like to propose a challenge. Why not switch up those mindless workouts with exercising mindfully?

Exercising mindfully can help to perform better, improve technique/form, prevent injuries, get more in tune with your body and stick to your workout plan (okay, so maybe this blogpost is a little bit about sticking to your new year’s resolutions!). Furthermore, mindful exercise also strengthens a part of your body that you don’t really use when you’re zoning out – the part that’s between your ears.

How to bring more mindfulness into your workouts

Below, we’ve listed five tips to help you bring more mindfulness into your workouts:

#1. Set an intention before every training

Before you start a training, take a minute or two to set an intention for the workout you’re about to do. I’m not going to tell you what kind of intention it should be, because that’s totally personal, but try to narrow it down to a single sentence. If you think you’re going to forget about the intention because you are so used to training on autopilot, write your intention on your hand or on a piece of paper that you stick in a place where you can see it.

#2. Concentrate on your breath

Good breathing is crucial for cardio, but you should also pay attention to your breath during other forms of exercise, like weight training. Are you breathing correctly? Are you moving with the breath? How long does it take for your breath to go back to normal once you’re done with a set?

#3. Bring more awareness to your body

When you notice you’re losing focus, bring your attention back to your body. It’s very normal for your mind to wander – you may be thinking about the things you have planned after your training, or the next day. It’s a matter of learning to identify when it happens, and then simply steer your thoughts back to what your body is doing.

#4. Create some space for limited-distraction workouts

Like I mentioned before, there is really nothing wrong with doing a workout and letting your thoughts go where they want to go. But I’d recommend trying to alternate your regular workouts with ‘limited-distraction workouts’. If you’re easily distracted, start with a quiet home workout or go for a run very early in the morning, when the rest of the world is still asleep. From there, you can gradually expand to other environments.

#5. When you’re done, check in with yourself

What do you usually do when you finish training? Do you have a habit of rushing all the time, causing you to get straight back to the daily grind in order to tackle the tasks on your never ending to-do list? A lot of people do this! But if you want to get all the benefits of exercising mindfully, you should try to take at least a couple of minutes after your training to check in with yourself. How does your body feel now compared to before your training? Where you as focused as you wanted to be? Did you stick with that intention that you wrote down? A quick check-in also serves as a transition moment between your workout and the rest of your day.

Even if you are unable to work out or simply don’t want to, you can still benefit from exercising mindfully. Try these 7 steps toward a mindful walk!

5 practical tips to get into flow state at work

flow state at work
Leestijd: 2 minuten |

When you’re in flow state, you experience a deep focus. It becomes easier to tap into your creativity and your productivity levels skyrocket. Accomplishing your task seems effortless. Needless to say, this would come in very handy at work. So why not give it a try? We’ve listed 5 practical tips to get into flow state at work. The more you practise getting into the zone, the more natural it becomes!

How to reach flow state at work

#1. Set clear goals

In order to achieve flow state, you need to have a very clear understanding of what it is that you want to accomplish. “Making the deadline for project X” is too abstract. Therefore, it’s best to separate your goals into smaller, well-defined objectives and simply pick one that you want to do at this time.

#2. Eliminate distractions

During flow state, it often seems like our brain automatically filters out any distractions. But in order for that to happen, you first need to create a mental clarity. That means removing as many distractions as possible. Turn off notifications, put on some noise cancelling headphones, and schedule a time block. It may also help to empty your bladder before you start; realizing that you need to use the restroom is also a distraction. Are you working from home? Read how to create a mindful home office.

#3. Don’t multitask

Many of us are conditioned to multitask in the workplace. But you need to understand that multitasking is a myth; you’re not really doing multiple things at the same time, you’re simply switching very rapidly between tasks. This increases the cognitive load on your brain, making it more difficult to reach flow state. So pick a single task and focus on that.

#4. Find a balance

If you have to do something super easy and boring, you’re not likely to reach flow state. Your mind and body need to be challenged to get into the zone. That said, if the task is too difficult it will only lead to you getting stressed and frustrated about it. So find a task that requires the right balance between challenge and skill. 

#5. Don’t try to force it

The harder you try to control something, the harder it becomes to do so. This is known as the paradox of control. While you can certainly create the ideal circumstances for flow state, you can’t force it. If it doesn’t happen, don’t worry about it. Schedule another time block and try again later.

Final thoughts

Depending on your job and what you need to do, reaching flow state at work can be a challenge. Coincidentally, challenge is exactly what you need to actually get into the flow. But if you’re not feeling it today, that’s totally fine. You can still get shit done. Just keep trying to create the ideal circumstances. Just like training a muscle, it is possible to train getting into flow state. And once you get the hang of it, you may catch yourself actually looking forward to Mondays.

Have you ever experienced flow state?

flow state
Leestijd: 2 minuten |

Anyone dipping their toes in the waters of mindfulness and meditation has probably heard about the term ‘flow state’. But what is that, exactly? What happens when you get into a flow state? And how can you get there?

What is a flow state?

Flow state can be described as a sense of fluidity between mind and body. It is the feeling you get when, in optimal circumstances, you are deeply focused on what you are doing at that moment – to the point where you are completely absorbed by it. Your senses become heightened and you may lose your awareness of time. This hyper focus is often accompanied by a sense of euphoria. Any distractions (external ones, but also internal ones like stress, fatigue, hunger and aches) melt away. It is more than just being really focused; you could say it is an active meditation. Some describe this as being ‘in the zone’.

What do you feel during flow state?

While the experience may be different for everyone, flow state is generally recognized by the following:

  • A deep focus. You’re able to fully concentrate on whatever it is that you’re doing, without getting distracted.
  • A sense of clarity. Your mind and body seem to know exactly what they need to do.
  • The elimination of obstacles. While being in the zone, any thoughts, feelings and sensations that would normally limit or distract you, seem to temporarily fade away.
  • Euphoria. The hyper focus is accompanied by a temporary high and feelings of euphoria, contentment and happiness.

How do you get into a state of flow?

To get into a state of flow, you need to create the ideal conditions. It usually happens when you’re doing something that you’re really passionate about. Depending on your personality and your interests, this could be anything; working, writing, creating art, making music, dancing or exercising.

Also, this mental state is more common during engaging activities; your physical or mental abilities need to be challenged to a certain extent, resulting in a willing effort to accomplish something. At the same time, it shouldn’t be so difficult that you get frustrated because you can’t pull it off. It is more likely to occur when you’re single tasking, which makes sense because multitasking requires you to constantly shift your focus. Furthermore, your circumstances and surroundings need to enable you to focus on your task or activity.

Final thoughts

Anyone can achieve flow state, provided that you create the ideal circumstances. If you don’t know where to start, try these easy breathing techniques for beginners to practice focus. Chances are that once you have your focus, the rest will follow.