Life is fairly hectic for most of us, we all want to be happy, but how do we attain it with so many balls in the air? Faced with the constant battle of trying to strike a happy balance between work, family life, friends, study (and the myriad of other things that creep onto that never ending to do list) – it can make us feel like a dog chasing its tail – it’s exhausting! With all these things/people competing for our attention stress levels can rise and social comparison starts to sneak in.
By now you might be starting to think surely there’s more to life than the daily grind, well, the good news is, there can be, …through the simple act of being more mindful and aware.
So what is this mindfulness mumbo jumbo?
Well I’m pleased you’ve asked, because it’s not mumbo jumbo at all, becoming more mindful of how we proceed through our day is the remedy to feeling like we’re running in circles. In a nut-shell mindfulness is the ability to appreciate and find satisfaction in the moment that you have right now, paying attention with awareness to; what you are doing/experiencing, who you are with and what’s around you.
It’s so easy to be on auto-pilot – procrastinating, making poor food choices or not getting enough sleep or exercise. Mindfulness is about being more present and aware of your behaviour in each moment. It can help you stop living your life like everything is an emergency and change habits that are working against you. Science backs this up, with more and more quality research showing the many benefits such as:
- Better mental and physical health
- Increased happiness
- Higher levels of life satisfaction
- More positive emotions (and fewer negative ones)
- Better quality sleep
- Reduced stress levels
- Increased resilience
- Materialistic (financial) wants decrease
So, are you ready to get off the treadmill and live life more mindfully with more awareness?
Here are our top mindfulness tips to get you started:
- Slow down. Enjoy the moment. Whether it is drinking a cup of tea, baking a cake, or a hug from your child, notice what is really pleasurable about the experience and how it makes you feel. Deliberate and thoughtful attention to daily actions promotes healthy focus and can keep you from feeling overwhelmed. One technique that we really like that can be particularly useful if you’re anxious, stressed, or struggling to shut off your mind is this:
Find one thing you can;
Repeat as many times as you need too.
- Focus on one thing at a time. Studies show that tasks take 50% longer with 50% more mistakes when multi-tasking. Write a plan or to do list. Set a timer and focus solely on that task. Schedule in breaks.
- Allow yourself to feel your emotions. Rather than distract yourself from them or deny them. Acknowledge them. Next time someone pushes your buttons and you’re feeling angry, frustrated or anxious, instead of reacting, or stewing over the details, pause, take a deep breath and focus on how this emotion is making your body feel. Are your fists clenched, is your heart racing, are your shoulder muscles hunched and tight, is your breathing short and shallow? Once you’ve taken time to sit with how your body is responding ,try and reverse engineer each of these things….unclench your fists, relax and roll your shoulders, take some deep breathes, hold and exhale slowly. Hopefully you’ll notice a feeling of calm is restored.
- Declutter and tidy. Living with too much clutter can drain your energy. It’s distracting, reminding you each time there’s a job to be done. Dealing with it is not only satisfying, but you will find you feel a lot calmer.
- Take a minute to breathe. When we engage in deep breathing the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for the ‘rest and digest’ response automatically engages, creating an immediate sense of calm. Short sharp shallow breaths are associated with the sympathetic nervous system and flight or fight mode, which is ok for the short term, but not when it continues. To calm your nervous system try this. Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 8. Repeat 5 times.
- With so much technology at our finger tips, making us always accessible, it can easily feel like a bombardment. Try leaving your phone at home. Limit device time. Utilise the sleep function on your phone.
- Develop a self-care ritual. This could be in the form of journaling, keeping a gratitude journal, a daily stretch routine, or as simple as a cup of tea in the sun. Find what works for you.
- Spend time in nature. Go for a walk on the beach, explore the bush or go for a swim in the sea or lake. Whenever you can get outside, it’s good for your mind, body and spirit and helps keeps you in the present.
- Meditation . No doubt you’ve tried or at the very least heard of this one, for good reason. Studies show this to be very effective and have many health and happiness benefits. The more you do it, the greater the benefit. There are lots of good apps that can help/teach you this. One we particularly like is ‘Balance.’
We hope this has helped you in some way get a step closer to happiness, or at least be able to be more present in the moment. We’d love to hear what worked/works well for you!