If the pandemic and the past year taught us anything, it is that it is important to try and make time for the things that matter to us. Spending time with our loved ones, enjoying a meal together, allowing ourselves the luxury of sitting quietly savoring our surroundings, reading a book or getting creative. At times these things may all feel like distant memories but you can make a plan to put them back into your daily life.
These days we are constantly on the go and there never seems to be enough hours in the day - we often feel as though we are on a rollercoaster. Our busy lifestyles naturally bring about many challenges including feelings of anxiety, depression and stress that may be stealing our well-being and impacting negatively on our health. This is why we should make the effort to slow down to regain some balance and control in our lives.
One way of doing this is through practicing mindfulness, equipping ourselves with coping strategies to once again live our lives to the fullest and find happiness and meaning. However, this is easier said than done.
Living a more mindful life needs to become a habit - here are some habits you can adopt to be more mindful:
- Start your day in the right frame of mind. Sit somewhere quiet where you feel comfortable and are able to gather your thoughts and think about your day ahead. Make a list of the things you are thankful for. Do some breathing exercises, listen to calming music, meditate, do yoga - these are all beneficial for reducing stress levels and make you feel more relaxed.
- Get moving. Try light exercise, like taking a stroll around the neighborhood. Apply your senses and take in your surroundings - feel the sunshine on your skin, smell the grass, the flowers, listen to the sounds - simply connect with the moment. Maybe your passion is cycling, tennis or basketball - spending time engaged in something you truly enjoy can help you carry mindfulness into other areas of your life.
- Practice slow living. This means planting a vegetable garden, preparing a meal from scratch, sitting down and savoring the different flavors, allowing yourself the time to appreciate the food. Not only is this better for one’s digestion, but it makes eating an enjoyable experience. And yes, set the table, use your best dinner plates, make mealtimes a special occasion and most importantly, put away the smartphone, switch off the television and be mindful of the moment.
- You don’t have to be superwoman or superman. Multitasking may impress some people, but research has shown that focusing on one task at a time improves your performance, increases your productivity and reduces the number of distractions in your day, leaving you more relaxed and fulfilled. And you will probably make fewer mistakes, thus spending less time completing tasks.
- Allow yourself to feel. We would all like to feel happy and content at all times, however, this is not always possible. Be mindful of how you react to your feelings, acknowledge them and allow yourself to feel sad, angry, disappointed or joyful. Live in the moment.
- Be creative. Spending time doing something you enjoy - whether it is a creative hobby, drawing, photography, coloring, sewing or painting the fence - can contribute to mindfulness. Remember, the more you practice, the easier it becomes.
Increasing one’s mindfulness differs from person to person. Find what works for you - those things that give meaning and joy - live in the moment and gain new control over your life.