Mindful Habits You Can Start Right Now

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In today's hectic and technology-driven society, it can be hard to focus. Distractions come in from all angles. Being mindful of yourself and others can become a challenge. Whether you struggle with stress, feel lost in your own head, or want to be more mindful in life, there are a couple of things you can do to order to center yourself.

Getting Into the Right Headspace

Sometimes we have difficulty accomplishing things because we're overwhelmed or otherwise discouraged. The reasons behind those lay in how we think. No matter what you need to do, if you get yourself in the right headspace about it, you absolutely can complete it.

  • Take a few deep breaths before you try to change the mindset you're in. If you start off worried, you'll be worried you're doing it wrong. If you start off angry, you'll be upset when you can't calm yourself down. A good way to calm down is through guided meditation. Once you're calm, you can start making yourself a headspace.

  • Come up with what you want to accomplish. Do you want to feel more powerful in yourself? Do you want to be able to tackle tasks without being overwhelmed? Once you've settled on what, specifically, you want to do, imagine how it ideally would go. Think through each step of what needs to happen. Think of it all happening with no unnecessary difficulty.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. Part of being mindful of yourself is realizing that while you are powerful, you are not all-powerful. Everyone needs help at one point or another and it doesn't reflect poorly on you as a person to need help.

Morning Walks

Able-bodied humans do a lot of walking in a day. It slips by the mind because it's such a regular action. Putting intention into any simple task can make it important. Weather and ability allowing, try going for a walk in the morning before you start your day.

  • When you go outside, take a deep breath. Try to clear your mind of tasks for the day, or write them down before you leave if you're afraid of forgetting. Whatever it may be, it can wait for a few minutes. As you walk, look around and pay attention to what's happening in your environment. Are the clouds moving with the breeze? Can you hear birds? Can you smell the proverbial roses? All living environments, be they closer to nature or more urban, have their own unique sensory experiences and atmospheres. Take yours in and be thankful for it. You never know how long something may last and it's important to appreciate moment by moment.

  • Pay attention to what you're thinking about while you walk. It's okay to let your mind stray, but try to bring it back to the task at hand after you think your thought. If you have a thought about something you see, question it. Why did you think it? What is your opinion on it and where does that come from? Being more mindful of yourself is easier when you know where certain thoughts are coming from.

  • Remove distractions. Walking with music can be relaxing, but don't play something that will be a distraction. Try to keep off your technology while walking in the morning so that you can clear your head. Answering notifications can wait until you're back inside.

  • Pay attention to your body while you walk. Stay within the limits of what you know you can do. When short of breath, take a minute to stay still and breathe in the air. If your feet are starting to hurt, maybe turn around and head back home. Pushing yourself is great if you're working on your athletic ability, but that and walking for mental maintenance have different focuses.

  • If you can't walk or have difficulty walking long distances, that's okay. Try going outside and just taking in the surrounding area for what it is and without judgment. Pay attention to your body and your thoughts, and maybe do some stretching instead of the walk. No matter your ability, it's important to move your body in some way to get your blood flowing and make you feel more energized.

Keeping a Journal

Journaling can be incredibly cathartic. It provides an opportunity to express what might be uncomfortable to express to others and helps us keep track of what we're feeling. Getting into the habit of writing how you feel and why can help develop mindfulness in day to day life.

  • Let yourself write in the journal without worry. Scribbled out words, doodles, messy handwriting, lack of organization, and other expressive pen marks are more than welcome. They may not be your favorite thing to look at, but it's better to angrily drag a marker over paper and get that energy out of your system than it is to hold on to it.

  • Let yourself feel your emotions fully as you write. Journaling is meant to be personal. It's for you and you alone, so it doesn't need to be a clinical or analytical write-up of what you've been feeling that day. You can swear, you can trail off, it's up to you.

  • Write about what you're feeling. Keeping track of your day to day activities and what you need to do tomorrow is a great way to use a planner. Let your journal be unedited and about you. Write what your happy feels like and where it came from. Write about your sadness and anger and the sources of those. If you have an emotion, write down what it feels like to you, be it burning, falling, singing, flying, or the mental version of a stomach cramp.

Slowing Down

It's easy to be nervous. We overload our already busy schedules to the point where second guessing and imagining how everything is going to go wrong takes precedence in our brains. That puts a focus far too heavily on the fact that things could go wrong. When you get to moments where it feels like things are going too fast or there's too much to do, remember to breathe. Remember to think.

  • You will be okay. The things that feel pressing right now will barely be a memory in a month or two. The things that seem scary are usually way easier and more guided than you're expecting. When you're uncertain, you can always double check with someone that knows for sure. You will be okay.

  • Life can be overwhelming and it can feel like nine million things need to be done right now, but the truth is that most things can wait. When you're sitting in traffic or in the bathroom and have just a moment to yourself, know that you'll be going back to where you came from in the end. Know that you can do anything you want when you put your mind to it.

Jennifer Silvershein