Heading into the holiday season is often a time of reflection, making goals and setting intentions for the year to come. 2020 has forced many of us into slowing down and learning to be more present, and with those experiences in mind, it may be the time to step back and invite a little more mindfulness into your everyday life. Mindfulness is the practice of slowing down and being present in the current moment and being open to the non-judgemental exploration of our current experiences and feelings. While to some this may seem like it’s a bit “out there” research has actually shown that mindfulness can increase well-being, improve mental health-related symptoms, and improve emotional reactivity and regulation. So, how can you be more mindful heading into the new year?
Make time for hobbies
As everyday life has become busier and busier; what with full-time jobs and side hustles, shuttling kids to school and all their activities, keeping up with social obligations, there is always something to do. Many of us often find it hard to make time to decompress at the end of a long day, let alone for hobbies, but slowing down and doing an activity you enjoy is important for our mental health. Hobbies can be an incredibly mindful activity, often when we are caught up in doing something we love like knitting, baking, painting, whatever it may be, we can’t help but be in the present moment. The act of doing something you love and can often do without too much thought or concentration grounds you in the moment and invites you to let your mind wander, both of which are important parts of being more mindful. So take it upon yourself to schedule some time each week to enjoy your hobbies!
Meditation may seem like one of those “token” words of the last few years but research has actually found it effective in decreasing stress and anxiety. Starting or ending your day with a short meditation can improve your mood, allow you time to sit with your experiences of the day, and just generally check in with yourself. Meditation can be a great tool to have for those highly stressful situations or when we’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed, and while there are countless meditation apps, books, and videos out there teaching you to meditate, many of us still struggle with the concept. If you’d like to incorporate meditation into your day-to-day but are finding it difficult, you may benefit from a meditation coach like those at Master Your Mind.
Keep a gratitude journal
Sometimes taking a step back and looking at the things in our life that we are grateful for can be enough to reframe a negative experience, a bout of anxiety, or a stressful day. It’s easy to take things for granted in our fast-paced lives, but allowing ourselves a few moments a couple times a week to sit with our thoughts and write out present things and people and moments we are most grateful for can really help us gain perspective and enjoy the current moment. In fact, research has show that writing in a gratitude journal can make people more grateful, optimistic, have better sleep and improve mood!
Take social media breaks
There is no arguing that we are surrounded by social media, it’s hard to avoid and it’s negative impacts on our mental health are well documented. And yet, most of us still let social media consume a large chunk of each and every day. It’s hard to stay present when you’re constantly scrolling through past memories, picture “perfect” lives, and all those people from high school who seem to be doing more, or “better” than you in one way or another. If you want to bring more mindfulness to your life, learn to take social media breaks. Whether that’s only allowing yourself a certain amount of time on social media per day, having one (or multiple) days per week where you don’t use social media at all, or if you “log off” all social media for weeks at a time, stepping away from your screens allows you to connect more with the people you love, and reflect. Social media breeds comparison, but if we take the time to be more mindful of our feelings we can be kinder to ourselves.
Considering heading into the new year being more mindful, after all 2020 has taught us a lot about the importance of learning to live in the present.