I used to thrive on stress. It was the determining factor in my emotional state, my health, the decisions I made and my fight for perfection. By 20, anxiety became a fixed part of my daily ritual, embedded so deep I never thought I’d live without it. It made me sick, depressed and helpless. I developed allergies, broken relationships and a shattered sense of self.
The terrible thing is, I see it happening more and more around me. People from all ages are experiencing complications due to uncontrolled stress management.
Society is out of balance and out of control. There are countless things on which we spend our energy that distract us from a mindful and meaningful life. Technology, television, high-stress jobs, career dissatisfaction, financial pressure, relationships, mental disorders, health concerns. These To-Do Lists hardly provide time for introducing coping strategies.
That’s what this article is about.
I’ve learned that practicing mindfulness doesn’t have to be about making big changes to your life. You can simply achieve mindfulness through simple changes to your everyday habits. Start small to achieve success. Try these 10 mindfulness rituals, and who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of what miracles are made of!
1. Create a peaceful morning routine. Studies have shown that catching up on emails or Facebook first thing in the morning can effect your mood and obstruct productivity. We also tend to feed poor sleeping patterns by setting our alarms late and rushing to work.
Instead of spending your morning stressed out, create a peaceful morning routine. Some things you can do are meditating or breathing deeply, taking time to drink your cuppa joe, listening to music, preparing for the day and setting your intentions.
2. Make a mantra. Make a mantra that aligns with your goals for success. When you find yourself in a tail spin, a mantra is a quick and meaningful way to bring you back to approaching any situation with mindfulness. Here is an example of a mantra: I have the power to complete my tasks on time or I am ready for whatever comes my way or I share my gifts lovingly with the world.
3. Taste your foods and drinks. We eat quickly and drink aggressively. We forget that it’s a privilege to be able to enjoy nourishment in abundance. Make a mental note for when you’re eating and drinking, to become aware of all your senses. Taste and smell what to put into your body as a way to become more mindful of your senses, your health and stress levels.
4. Be thankful. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude! Make time to review five things you are grateful for every day. Write it down to keep track of your blessings or merely think about it when you’re driving in your car. There’s nothing as powerful as finding the positive in negative situations!
5. Get off your phone. When engaging with others, keep your phone in your pocket. If you are there to spend time with people, they should be the center of your attention. Give them your love and respect by engaging mindfully in conversation. Look into their eyes, smile, be present.
6. Feel your feelings. When you find yourself becoming stressed out, angry or sad, identify where the emotion is present in your body. Is it in your shoulders, your stomach, your head or your back? If you’re able to identify it, you can soothe it. Massage the tense part of your body softly to rub out the pressures you’re carrying within.
7. Do one meditative thing per day. I’m not going to tell you to meditate because meditation is not for everyone. Instead, attempt to do one meditative thing per day. Read, draw, colour, write in your journal, breathe, sit in silence, pray. Anything reflective, introspective and peaceful.
8. Have free time. Set out time that is not allocated to anything and do with that time what you please. One hour or one night per week, give yourself space to play and practice mindfulness.
9. Be kind. As often as you can, make it about someone else. There is nothing that brings abundant meaning into our lives such as small acts of kindness. Smile at a co-worker, make your friend a cup of tea, donate blood or save a stray animal.
10. Goodnight, world! Make a conscious effort to walk away from screen time one hour before you go to sleep. (Perhaps this is where you can practice your 5 gratitudes?) Yes, it may be relaxing, but studies have shown that exposure to stark screen lights or repetitive social news feeds before bedtime alters alertness and sleeping patterns, causes fatigue and decreases melatonin levels (which is not what you want, right?)
Now, in honour of Oprah Winfrey’s 62nd birthday, here are one of my favourite things she’s ever said:
“Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and dance.”
Thank you for reading and remember, you’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me down below!
Remember, life is what you make of it!