If you’re seeing a lot of information about mindfulness and aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. From yoga to breathing exercises, journaling and everything else in between it’s easy to feel lost in the sea of options as a newcomer. So how do you decide where to start? It’s best to start small with any new habit and if possible choose an aspect of your life that you’d like to start improving. To deal with the variety of challenges I personally encounter, the majority of my personal practices relate to work. Even in my relationship with my partner and I, if I’m in a better place mentally then I can allow myself to be present and enjoy my life more fully. Together, we’ve compiled some simple mindfulness practices that you can add to your daily routine to start improving your life now.
Passive choices Most would assume that practicing mindfulness means that you have to actively do something. However, we believe a great way to start practicing is deciding to not do certain things. In our modern fast-paced world it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the things we need to do. The best way to combat this is to choose not to overwhelm yourself. This requires a level of honesty with yourself.
The effort you put forth should be aligned with your path, goals, or values. We all have obligations and things we don’t have an option in, but when you do have the choice to make a decision, it can be beneficial to take a moment to think about if this choice could provide a positive experience. This is a passive way to improve your focus and effort towards things you’re passionate about. Don’t get me wrong, there are still going to be negative experiences. The best thing to do when facing negativity is to acknowledge it. Try to cope in a positive way and get back to a place mentally that will allow you to have a more positive experience.
Getting Started with Intention A great way to start practicing mindfulness is at the beginning, aka the start of your day. Morning routines vary, but prioritize setting aside a few minutes to prepare yourself for the day. Some great practices include meditating, breathing, stretching, or anything that exerts effort and energy towards feeling your body and balancing your mind. This helps you think clearly about your goals for the day, prioritize any tasks you need to complete, and puts you in the right frame of mind to embrace spontaneous positive aspects the day might bring. You can even start small by simply taking a deep breath before walking into a stressful situation. For example, before you walk into work take a moment to take a deep breath, clear your mind, and open yourself to the positivity that you and others may bring. Living with intention means choosing to see life in a positive light. You can use this to turn challenges into opportunities. This will take practice, and resets may be required. If you start seeing things in a negative light, take a breath and allow yourself to restart. Having the perfect mindset isn’t required, just give yourself room to recover.
Strategize Failing to plan is planning to fail. Life is full of many tasks and obligations and the best way to accomplish your goals is to prioritize and plan. It’s hard to devote your energy to one task when you’re thinking about the other things on your plate. Start by creating a list of things you need to accomplish and organize a plan of action on how you can complete those tasks. It’s much easier to adjust a plan than to be constantly recreating one. By doing this you can focus your undivided attention on one thing at a time, and you can complete your tasks efficiently. With a methodical approach to the day you can better handle stress, and focus your attention on results. While everything doesn’t always go according to plan, a plan can be a useful tool in keeping you focused on your goals and what is truly important throughout a day.
Use Your Body Have you ever had so much energy build up to the point where you feel like you need to shake and thrash around to get rid of it? My theory is that sensation is our bodies telling us that it needs a physical release. Science tells us that our bodies and minds work better when we exercise regularly and there are many well documented health benefits including improving your mood, bettering cognitive function and reduced stress levels to name a few. Nobody’s telling you to run a marathon, remember to start small and build on it as you get more comfortable with it. The point is to exert physical effort in order to relieve the energy buildup before you meltdown. Start with a good stretch at lunch before heading back in to work or wiggle it out if you have a stressful day and shake off the bad vibes. If nothing else, have fun with it! Maybe it’s an opportunity to try a new exercise class you’ve been putting off or it’s as simple as going for a peaceful walk, ending your work day, and starting your evening in a better mindset. It’s what you make it.
Most of these exercises take time to develop and require practice. It’s important to consider the scale on which you can apply the practices as well as how far you are willing to go in order to set a boundary. Above all, it’s important to explore your own personal balance to figure out what works in your life. It’s best to start practicing small and explore the level of application you need in that area. If you’re finding challenges in one area over another, it could help to grow your practices in that particular area. For example, if you’re having trouble at work and you’re trying to apply some of the practices to those situations but you’re still facing frustration and poor progress you need to focus your effort on that difficult area. Continue to try different approaches and practices to figure out what works best for you. Maybe meditation isn’t realistic, but you have time for yoga, or maybe yoga isn’t it, but stretching for a few minutes each morning with your focus on nothing else is. Start small and celebrate your wins until you reach your goals.