Developing and integrating any new routine in our lives can feel overwhelming at times. You may have read about the benefits of introducing mindfulness into your daily life on Instagram posts, podcasts, books, or through one of your friends. The hype is real, and research has shown mindfulness techniques to be effective in helping individuals alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and assist with emotional management. But how can YOU take steps toward living a more conflict-free, tranquil life?
Here are five ways to develop a mindfulness practice and reconnect with yourself and your emotions.
1. Start the day off with a gratitude practice
One of the best gifts we can give ourselves is taking time out of our days to be mindful of our blessings and sit in a space of gratitude for such offerings. Try to get into a habit of avoiding picking up your smartphone first thing in the morning, and instead thanking the universe for bringing some of these blessings into your life. It doesn’t have to be an extensive list, but what’s most important is recognizing aspects of your life (e.g. your health, your social circle/relationships, your job, or all of the above) and really feeling the gratitude flow through your soul in the process. You can either write your list in a gratitude journal, make a mental note in your head, or use a gratitude-focused app to remind yourself of all you have to be grateful for throughout the day. I personally have a basic journal that I use (it’s not fancy - I bought it at Walgreens) and write my list each morning, read my list aloud, thank the universe for my blessings, and place a Selenite crystal on it to “charge” throughout the day. On a good day, I read the list again and make a mental note of anything else I’d like to add from the course of my day. Whatever works for you!
2. Try to find the beauty in everything you do
Next time you’re outside, take a few minutes and remove your headphones and really focus on the environment around you. Listen to the birds chirping, the air blowing, feel it on your skin, and take a moment to observe what’s happening on your walk. This is another great opportunity to implement gratitude in the moment, thanking the universe as you breathe in fresh air while connecting with the energy around you. This is a really simple way to reset your nervous system and bring you into the present moment.
3. Attune yourself to your emotions through journaling
Have you ever heard that it’s best to sit with your emotions and let them flow through you? One way to do this is by grabbing a journal and jotting down what you’re feeling in the present moment. If you’d like, you can also write what sensations you are feeling within your body in the process. For example, if you’re feeling anxious about something, try freely writing about it, and including what it feels like within you to be experiencing these emotions (tightness in chest/shoulders/throat, for example) and as you write, see if you’re able to identify any triggers or what’s coming up for you. By connecting your mind to your body and spirit through writing, you will be able to better recognize patterns and help identify triggers to your symptoms. Understanding the inevitable waves of emotions is key to better utilizing tools and skills your therapist will provide you during your sessions.
4. Find ways to hit pause throughout your day
There’s no doubt our world is a bit chaotic. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, lifestyles have shifted, routines have been disrupted, work can seem more stressful than ever, and it can be difficult to find the time or the energy to maintain a positive mindset throughout the day. One way to recalibrate throughout the day and practice a bit of self-care is by introducing affirmation practices into your day. Try setting a few alarms throughout your day with positive affirmations such as, “I am valued,” or “I continue to reach my goals” to shift your mindset for a brief moment. Over time, the likelihood of your self-perception as well as other compounding stressors in your life will change. If you do not feel like manually setting up alarms or reminders, try downloading the I Am app, which is designed to do just that. The app will send you a positive affirmation hourly each day, allowing you to be able to take a few seconds to pause and focus on a hopeful thought or feeling.
5. Begin a meditation practice
This is, hands down, one of the best ways to start or end a day. Those just starting with meditation may feel intimidated by the practice, as it can initially feel overwhelming to sit with ourselves for an extended period of time. However, much like anything else, meditation practices can be introduced slowly and at your pace. If you’re up for it, try sitting for about 2-3 minutes to start, and notice whether you feel a shift in your energy afterward. After sitting for that length of time for a few days, see if you’re open to sitting for between 5-7 minutes, and work your way up from there. For some, listening to a guided meditation is ideal, whereas others may enjoy listening to healing tones such as Solfeggio Frequencies; others may prefer to sit in total silence. There are seemingly endless options for guided meditations that can be found on YouTube, Spotify, and even some podcasts dedicated to the practice. Each of us are unique, and our meditation practices can all look different. Find what works for you and, if you carve the time out of your day to make it an ongoing habit, it’s likely you will find more serenity throughout your days.