Recently I spoke to a friend who had been gaining weight due to stress. She asked how she could begin to go back to the way she was. I asked if she was still stressed often and she told me she was. She told me she was often worried and upset. I told her to begin by taking care of the root of the problem. Before she could really begin loosing weight via a healthy diet and exercise, she would have to take care of her stress.
I told her to look into mindful thinking. I even told her to look at my site (hello friend if your here). While some people think that to be mindful you need to meditate for hours on end, there are many ways to bring stress relief and mental awareness into every day life. Today, I’ve listed ten great ways to be more aware, happier, and present during the day. If you aren’t sure about this whole mindful thing yet, check out this.
1. The 1 Minute Wake-up
Waking up can be stressful in today’s world. The buzzing alarm, speeding into the shower, quick drying hair, running out the door. To be more mindful, take a minute to wake up. Tomorrow when you wake, get up, calmly make the bed, then sit. Take a minute to just breathe and relax.
Realize that rushing from task to task does nothing but stress you out. Think about what you will do today, think about your dreams last night. Just take time to wake up and think. It’s times like these, when normally we would just be rushing from task to task that we need to stop and make ourselves think.
After the minute is up, try to go deliberately from task to task, don’t just speed and rush. I think you’ll find that taking your time not only makes you less stressed (so long as you wake up on time) but it also results with forgetting less. (You shouldn’t have to walk in the door five more times before you leave.)
2. Spend Half of Your Car Ride with No Radio
If you’ve never done this (on purpose) before, then you need to try. I’m not talking about when you are so zoned out that you just forget, I’m talking about purposely turning it off. Why would you do that? so that you are forced to be with yourself in the car. You must think and concentrate on more than lyrics in the back of your mind.
How? Next time you get into your car, turn off the speakers. Drive for ten minutes before turning them back on. During this time, try to think about how your day has been, how you felt about the people you met, what you need to do when you get home or to work. Acknowledge how you feel and decide what you realistically can and can not do.
If there are people in the car with you, talk to them. Rather than just play the radio, talk to the person about their day, how they feel, how you feel. Connect with them. If they are your kids, ask them about their friends, their work, their classes. If it is a partner, ask about their work, their night’s sleep, ect. Humans need to connect. Talking to people you care about in the morning, will make you feel better. It does to me.
3. Mindfully Listen
How often do you really stop and listen to someone? It might be less than you think. Actively listening to someone is a great way to add a bit of mindfulness into your every day life. When you actively listen make sure you are not thinking about anything else, you are really taking in what the person is saying, and you are not only responding to them, but are making sure you understood what they said in the first place.
What do you get out of active listening? If you begin really listening to every person you talk to, you will feel more human connection, you will make other people feel cared about, and you will notice people listen to you more as well. Mindfulness is about more than just knowing what you are thinking, sometimes it’s knowing what others are really thinking too.
4. One Thing
To become more mindful, begin doing one thing at a time. No more checking Facebook while sitting talking to five of your closest friends while waiting on dinner and watching sports on the TV at the bar. When you are work you can file paper and scan papers, just not at the same time. Sure, check your email, but don’t check it while you are drinking coffee and talking to someone. Actively work to do one thing only.
This can apply in every part of your life, not just work or with friends. You can’t vacuum, pick up, and dust all at the same time no matter how hard you try. Instead, take the time to pickup everything, then dust, then when both of those are done, vacuum.
By taking the time to do one thing at a time, you will do each thing better, you will feel more accomplished at the end of the day, and you will be happier and less stressed in the long run. To add to this, remember to stay aware. Mindfulness is about being aware in the moment, to live rather than “just live”. If you try to be mindful in the morning getting ready, why not at work, at school, shopping, waiting, all of life?
5. Take Walks
If you see someone that’s less stressed, you’ll often want to know their biggest secret. Well, I have it. It’s taking walks. Every day when MadMan and I wake up, we go on a 10 minute walk. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, or what we’re doing that day. We get up, get dressed (I put on a hat) and we walk.
I challenge you to do the same thing. I also add another section to the challenge. Take walks at work. Walk around the OUTSIDE of the building. Your lunch break should not just be for eating, it should be for relaxing. I know some workplaces are strict, so walk when you can. If you work at a more lenient workplace, try to take a ten minute walk every hour or two. Make sure to stay aware. Don’t zone out hoping to get away from the day. Rather, think about your day, think about the sky, the grass, the trees, or just yourself.
6. Be Creative
Mindful people need an outlet. Adult coloring books, woodcraft work, painting, bread making, or maybe pottery. Being creative (even if you say your no good) is a way to really get your mind into an active state. Try taking a wine and painting class, or a cooking class. Try home cooking everything from scratch tomorrow night.
These creative endeavors keep your mind going, they give you something to take your emotions out on, and they give you something to look forward to. That said, it’s not just the mind that mindful people use to be mindful. (that was a mouth full)
7. Go Outside / Be Active
You may spend 30 minutes a week being creative, but what about the body? Working out and exploring nature has been proven to reduce stress, promote happiness, and make people more aware. MadMan and I rock climb, hike, camp, backpack, tube down rivers, kyack, run, and swim. We love it all.
Next time you get a chance, go the the closest state park you can. Take a walk, a hike, or a bike. Spending time in nature is a sure way to reboot your mind and focus on what really matters. If you don’t have a park, try a 5K or maybe even a color run.
No one can be stressed running through rainbow corn starch with friends!
8. Phones Go Off
One thing that will help you is an app called Break Free (there are many like it as well). It’s an app that tracks how much you are on your phone. When I first started using it, I was on my phone for almost 3 hours a day! Now? Most days I am on my phone for no more than an hour. (Phone calls and google maps take up that time most days.)
How much do you look into someone’s eyes at the dinner table? How many times do you check your phone before checking on your loved one when you wake up? How many times has your child asked for your attention while you are texting, Snap-chatting, Facebook-ing? Set guidelines for when you use your phone. Try to be more aware of “real life” throughout the day by staying off your phone more.
9. Feel Your Feels
While mindfulness is about being aware of the situation and yourself, making yourself happy, and listening to others, its also about making sure that you are okay being upset. You should feel okay being sad, depressed, and stressed. Those emotions are part of life. What’s important is that you feel them, acknowledge them, try to understand them, and try to move past them. That’s not to say you can’t feel them at all. It’s also vital understand that you can and should see someone. Psychologists are wonderful and a great way to better understand yourself. They can help you move past things you didn’t even know were bothering you. Overall just remember, don’t be afraid to be upset, don’t be afraid to cry.
10. Laugh… At Yourself
All this talk about listening to yourself, feeling emotions, taking each day task by task, and being present in every moment is great. But at the end of the day, one thing stands out above the rest. You must have the ability to laugh at yourself. You need to be able to laugh when something goes wrong, be okay with looking dumb, and dropping the ego that we all build over time. While it’s okay to be proud, feel embarrassed, or dumb you must be able to laugh it off, shake off your feelings if you will.
Have you ever made a fool of yourself in front of hundreds of people? I have. I felt embarrassed and dumb. But then I stood back up and finished. I made a joke about it, and at the end of the day I was even prouder that I had kept my cool and dealt with the situation calmly versus shutting down and making an even bigger fool of myself.