As we enter a new year, we are beginning to set thoughts towards our resolutions and goals. Whatever these aspirations may be, at the heart of each of them is your desire to be happy. That’s all anyone wants, right? To be happy, healthy and live a full life.
Unfortunately, once the holiday season draws to a close, it can feel like our motivation and bright spirits get boxed up safely with the holiday decorations, not to be seen again until the merry months come rolling back around. Why? Because the beginning of something new is scary and stressful.
So how can we overcome this and make sure that 2019 is the year we become our best selves yet? Practice mindfulness. Living mindfully means that you are making a conscious effort to live in the present moment. This stops us from dwelling on the past, worrying about the future and helps us make a connection with our mind and bodies. In fact, studies show that mindfulness can dramatically reduce anxiety, depression and perceived stress.
Here are three simple mindfulness tools for you to use throughout the year to help become happier, healthier and better equipped to achieve your dreams.
No, we are not talking about the type of journaling that typically starts with the line: ‘Dear Diary’. Today, there are many journals on the market that are specifically geared toward mindfulness. These journals are filled with little prompts or activities that will help you observe, understand and ground your thoughts in the present moment. If, however, you don’t want to invest in a journal you can still benefit from this tool by spending just 5-10 mins each day writing a few sentences about one of the following:
• A thought that you had that day
• A feeling that you had that day
• Something you are grateful for
• Something that you want to work towards. This can be something as small as an intention for the day (e.g. say something kind to someone.)
The simple act of breathing can reduce stress, anxiety and help ground us in the present moment. If you can, find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed. If finding a moment of peace just isn’t possible, don’t worry you can still try out this meditation technique.
Find a space to sit and take a few moments to get into a comfortable position.
Breath in through your nose for 10 seconds. Exhale from your mouth for 10 seconds. The key to this step is to make sure you are breathing with your stomach instead of your chest. When you inhale expand your stomach. When you exhale deflate your stomach.
Observe + Name Thoughts
Now this one will take a lot of practice to master, but if you make the effort to do it as regularly as possible, you will begin to notice a difference in your mindset. Experts estimate that we have as many as 50,000-70,000 thoughts every day. Unfortunately, as many of us lead demanding lives, a huge percentage of these thoughts are negative and cause us stress, anxiety, fear or even pain.
For this mindfulness tool, you need to make a conscious effort to observe these thoughts and feelings and make a connection to how they make you feel. It’s important that you don’t put pressure on yourself to change these thoughts. The goal here is to simply observe them. Some people find it helpful to name them. For example, saying to yourself ‘This is the thought that is making me worried about work. This is anxiety.’ Understanding our thoughts and feelings gives us a sense of control, ultimately reducing the amount of power they hold..
Written by Samantha Allaker